Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, worried, or sad? At Childhelp, we get it. Not just the normal range of these emotions, but the tough, seemingly insurmountable feelings that can be triggered by current events or past trauma. There’s no one cure for feeling better but we’ve learned from 63 years of in-house research that animal therapy can ease a little tension, change your mood, and even heal your heart.
According to a study entitled “Animal assisted intervention: A systemic review of benefits and risks” published in the National Library of Medicine, animal interactions offer benefits such as “reducing stress, pain and anxiety.”
Issues like depression and anxiety are complex, but adding a little canine cuddle time to your day can create a feeling of support, distract from frustrations, and offer the motivation you might need to keep going.
Animals are especially valuable companions for those recovering from major illnesses, individuals suffering from dementia, and people living with PTSD. Whether you’re battling physical or mental health challenges, or just having a rough day, here are a few ways you can work some animal therapy into your daily life:
- Morning Meditation (The PURRfect start to your day): Center yourself with a few deep breaths to quiet your mind, grab your coffee, and sit in a comfortable place. Pay attention to your pet as you awaken all five senses: 1. Taste: Savor that first sip of coffee. 2. Sight: Just watch your cat stretch and play. What can you learn about the way Socks starts her day? 3. Hearing: Listen to kitty purr. Soooo relaxing. 4. Touch: This is the best part. Stroke kitty and enjoy the feeling of her fur under your fingers. 5. Smell: Hopefully you’re not near the litterbox here. Breathe in the scent of that morning coffee and start the day.
- Workplace PETtiness: From a snippy email to a toxic culture, offices can be a hotbed of stressors. If you are lucky enough to work where you can bring a pet, you have the great opportunity to escape with Fido for a lunchtime walk that might put you in a better headspace. Even watching a little Beta fish in a small bowl on your desk can ease you into a more peaceful, focused mindset.
- Early Evening (FERRETing out the best way to play): It’s important to find ways to incorporate “play” into your day. Whether you engage the ferrets with their favorite feather toy, play Frisbee with the dog, or spend an hour putting together a new habitrail for your hamster, making that transition from the workday to YOUR time is essential.
- Winding Down (Stop TWEETing and spend time with your bird): Shut down all devices before bedtime and add a little animal care to your ritual. Whether it’s covering the bird cage, or lifting the pups onto the bed for some quality cuddling, making your last interactions of the day animal-focused can ground you, soothe your spirit, and remind you of the simple joys to be found in loving the little creatures and being loved in return.