Self-Care during Social Distancing
A few weeks ago, a friend told me, "I think it's going to get worse before it gets better." Whether we're working from home or going to work, we're all facing a lot of uncertainty and stress right now. No doubt our dogs are feeling it, too!
We hear it all the time. Self-care is so important. But how many of us feel like we've got that self-care routine down? For many, its times like these when our self-care efforts get back-burnered. But its times like these that we need to prioritize self-care the most!
Self-care for dog parents can be a challenge. Especially after we learn that we should be providing similar self-care for our dogs! As if there aren't enough things on our plates. I'll be the first to admit that self-care is hard. But it's also the #1 thing that helps me get through the best and worst of days.
When I say self-care, I'm referring to the things that fill me up. The idea of filling up your cup is simple. You can't pour from an empty one. In other words, you've got to take care of yourself first, if you're going to be any good to anybody else.
That can be a hard pill to swallow. It's especially hard for me because I tend to think parenting is all about self-sacrifice. And when I'm not sacrificing, I feel guilty. The reality is, though, that my dog loves her life with me most when I'm taking care of me first.
The responsibility doesn't stop there, of course. It extends to our dogs. Self-care for dogs means that we prioritize our dog's mental and emotional health, not just the physical. I'm lucky if my dog gets in more than one good walk a day. Walk or no walk, what is most important is that she gets plenty of opportunities to BE A DOG throughout the day.
It seems obvious to point out that inactivity, boredom and being stuck at home can be draining for most of us. But that is exactly what many dogs experience on a daily basis. Let's take this opportunity to acknowledge how important it is to give our dogs healthy things to do throughout the day. We can develop new habits now, so that we are set when life resumes its normal pace.
Since we are all individuals, self-care looks different from human to human and dog to dog. All that matters is that these are things that fill us up, instead of drain us in unhealthy ways. A simple way of gauging your own self-care is to pay attention to how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. Choose the things that boost your energy, focus and outlook.
Take the same advice and apply it to your dog. What does your dog enjoy and look forward to? When does she feel most relaxed? What activities help her burn off excess energy? These are the things your dog could use more of in her day-to-day!
Okay, that's great in theory, but how do I actually put this into practice. Why not start with just one thing? One thing everyday. One thing for you. One thing for your dog. If you get to more than that, great! But if you only do one thing today in the way of self-care, you're doing alright!
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