The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning people that dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is stressful. It’s important to take steps to help manage potentially overwhelming emotions and anxiety.
During this trying time, families have suffered an economic burden; they have had to shelter in place and practice social distancing. All of these factors contribute to anxiety. It’s crucial to find a way to ease stress and to find enjoyment. If you are a pet owner, you know that your dog or cat plays an active role in relieving your anxiety. Consider five ways your pet can help you through the COVID19 pandemic.
1. A Pet is Good for Your Mental Health
There is a reason thousands of families welcome dogs and cats into their hearts each year. A pet makes a great companion if you are stuck at home and cut off from friends and family. Your dog is a friendly ear when you need someone to talk to or a great distraction when you feel the stress mounting.
Often pets can pick up cues for how someone they love is feeling, too, so if you are sad or lonely, your dog will be there to provide comfort and may even make you laugh.
2. Pets Give You Purpose
When you are stuck at home, it can be a struggle to find a reason to get up out of bed. A dog that needs exercise or grooming provides purpose. It’s not just about you. There is someone special in your life that needs your help, and that is motivating.
Having a dog means you must stick to a schedule, get out of the house several times a day, and do some cleanup. He is the gift that keeps on giving by letting you know that there are still things you must do even if you are sheltering in place.
3. Dogs Keep You Moving
Staying home puts you at risk of becoming inactive. Lack of physical exercise can encourage chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes. People who live sedentary lives have a higher risk of developing obesity, heart disease, and dementia.
The pandemic may mean that you can’t go to the gym, play tennis or even golf. The things that kept you active in the past are out of your reach right now, except for maybe one. The need to walk the dog doesn’t change because there is a virus out there.
Having a dog can be a source of activity. You can take her with you for a run or go to the park and play. It’s a chance to get outside and breathe in the fresh air.
4. Take a Break
For many, the pandemic means working at home. It’s easy to get caught up in your work and forget to take a break. You don’t have colleagues to get a cup of coffee with or to remind you it’s time to quit for the day.
Your office buddy is now the four-legged variety that nuzzles your leg when it’s time to get up from the desk. She is there to let you know it’s been several hours since you took her outside. Your dog keeps you on schedule when being on the clock means staying at home in quarantine.
5. Add a Little Sweetness to Your Life
Between watching the news reports and interacting on social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity. Add that to the fact that you are stuck at home either by yourself or with your family, and it’s easy to feel like there is little joy in life right now.
A dog is nothing but joy. That unconditional love and lasting sweetness will remind you that there are good things in life. This situation is temporary, so focusing on the negative does more harm than good.
When you feel that negative energy taking over, sit on the couch, and have a cuddle. Maybe it’s time to grab the leash and take a walk or do some training. Your dog is ready anytime you are, so make the most of his positive nature and let it help you fend off the negative.
When the pandemic is over, you will look back on your time with your pet and develop a new appreciation for what a dog or cat brings to your life.
Lynell McCready has had pets all her life, and each one has taught her something different about not only herself but how she wishes to view the world. But it wasn’t until a job in the late nineties that took her away from her animals did she realize the impact that we have on our animals’ lives. For the last 15 years, she’s been a pet-sitter, offering and assuring people who do have to leave their pets that they will be well-loved and taken care of while they are away.