In October 2015 this gorgeous chap arrived and caused me to make a few adjustments in my life. He easily slipped into the role of personal stress reduction trainer and foot warmer! Being a dog (and animal) lover, I think we can learn and gain much from our fellow creatures.
Walking my dog is a perfect way for me to connect with nature, to feel grounded and to get regular exercise. During lockdown walking with my dog helped keep me sane and connected to life. I find it easy to be mindful when I’m walking. I notice my body moving and connecting with the earth as well as enjoying the sunrises and sunsets and listening to the sounds of nature. What I also love is watching my dog being in the moment: sniffing the foliage and chasing squirrels (which he never catches)!
Beanz is a rescue dog and I know nothing about his beginnings. When he arrived he was a skinny, scared, six-month old pup who had obviously never been out for a walk or probably eaten decent food. So, with this anxious puppy in situ I decided to apply some simple tips to improve his physical and mental wellbeing. Here are three simple strategies that are great for humans and dogs (shushhhh don’t tell Beanz he’s not human though):
We all need to play and have fun! However, we can often find ourselves getting stuck in a rut, doing the same things that revolve around work and caring for families. Play is anything that gives you pleasure and pleasure equals stress reduction.
An important part of play is learning. Your brain absolutely loves learning new things so it’s really important to try out different experiences and visit new places.
Beanz gets bored if I take him on the same walk every day so we visit several different places each week in turn. Take some time out of your week to do something different. You could join a painting class, study workshop, go fishing or just walking somewhere different. Try something that easily fits in with your circumstances and see if you can notice a difference in how you feel.
Love & Affection
We all need to feel loved and safe and touch is a wonderful antidote to stress. One of the worst things about lockdown was isolation and lack of physical connection. Where possible and if you feel safe doing so then give out more hugs to your loved ones or friends. When you do you give your brain a boost of oxytocin – the love hormone! It’s scientifically proven that babies who are not physically touched do not thrive well. Take time to talk and share experiences with someone close to you whether that be a partner, friend or family member.
They say dogs don’t really like to be hugged but I’ve noticed that Beanz will come up and sit next to us on the sofa, lean towards us and enjoy a hug. He also likes lying alongside me on the sofa while I rub his belly – basically I’m a slave to my dog!
Move More to Release Stress
Regular exercise is essential for stress reduction. It helps to keep your body mobile and calms down cortisol and adrenaline levels that become raised through stress. Although adrenaline leaves your body quickly, cortisol can stay for several hours.
There are two branches of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) and parasympathetic (associated with relaxing, sleeping and digesting). Exercise is an important part of balancing the nervous system otherwise the sympathetic branch can take over causing anxiety and stress. I really noticed the positive effect on myself and Beanz from having regular exercise. Whatever the weather I am out in it! However, I do confess to getting thoroughly fed up of wearing wellies during winter!
Simple but effective tips! Its amazing how just making small adjustments can make a massive difference. Even taking just 10 minutes a day to exercise and do something different can help with stress reduction. We all need to exercise our choices so choose your wellbeing for at least some of the time.
If you would like to talk about how you can benefit from hypnotherapy & coaching for anxiety and stress management then give me a call on 07703 211449 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer a free 30 minute consultation.