OK, so right now you may be thinking what on earth you can be taught from a dumb animal who has on occasion been known to eat its own faeces? I’m a serious anxiety sufferer and this idiot’s banging on about the animal who spends its life dragging its arse across the carpet, shoving its nose in visitors crotches, sleeping, chewing squeaky toys and chasing balls?
Well, you know what, dogs are smart! Far smarter than humans! They’re also kinder, more understanding, and can teach us a lot when we study them!
That said, when I was walking my dogs earlier today, this blog made complete sense to me! Now? As I write this, even I’m not sure???
Dogs, yep, they’re almost bordering on being annoyingly happy! And no matter what they do, how they screw up (it surely can’t be only me that’s greeted by a strange smell some mornings when I enter the kitchen?) we always forgive them, and more importantly, when we yell at them, they always forgive us!
I have to admit, I’m a dog person, I grew up around dogs and have pretty much always had a dog in my life. Cats? you can keep them! Arrogant, vile creatures that I always get the feeling think they are way above us! Dogs, mans best friend, cats, just a weird room-mate who craps in a box and actually smirks at you as it watches you clean it up!!
Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make it wag its tail!
Anyway, back on subject! Just what can our furry, 4 legged bestest friend teach us and those around us, about dealing with our anxieties?
Let me add before I go on, I was finally diagnosed with a medium to severe GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) around 8 years ago. When I then looked back, I realised I’d actually had it since my early 20’s yet didn’t understand it, so didn’t really read into all that much! I just put it down to lacking confidence, not wanting to enter into new situations, not wanting to meet new people, hating using a phone to speak to people I didn’t know, and also speaking up on topics I wasn’t 100% sure about, even in front of good friends and family.
Then in 2009 I was hit with illness! My anxiety then spiralled out of control. Panic attacks, feelings of despair, huge fatigue during the daytime, but then feeling absolutely wide awake at night (tired but wired), feeling like I was going insane, feelings of depression, and even questioning whether it was worth living?
When the dog looks at you, the dog is not thinking what kind of person you are. The dog does not judge you.
Anyway, where am I going with all of this? As I was walking my youngest dog this morning and watching her just go about her daily business of generally loving life and enjoying herself, it became apparent that ‘A dog’s life’ can actually teach us and those close to us, things that can help our own anxieties!
So here it finally is, in no particular order, (just like my filing system) my top 10 things that our dogs can teach us, to help deal with our anxiety!
1. Have some fun! Somewhere and somehow, find time to have some fun in your daily life! Laughing will always be, THE best medicine!!! Stop to smell the roses! Yes, I no dogs also stop to smell the shit, but that ain’t gonna help us! But if we have a small breakthrough and battle 1 of our fears or anxieties, then celebrate it! (and most importantly for us anxiety sufferers, remember HOW you battled that period and remember it for next time. Experience teaches us – but only if we let it and USE IT!)
2. Go for a walk! Things getting on top of you, feeling like the walls are closing in? Get the hell out, go for a brisk walk, get some fresh air, some sunshine, even walking in the rain feels good for the soul and connects us with nature and mother earth!
3. ALWAYS greet your loved ones when they come home! No explanation needed here, human contact is one of the greatest soother’s around! Which leads us on to –
4. Cuddling and hugging! There isn’t much in life that shows how much you’re loved more than hugging! Think about it, you only really hug those that you are truly close to and want direct contact with! Hugging has been proven to lower anxiety and calm us! Dogs love human contact with their pack, and so should we!
5. Take naps or relax whenever possible! If you’re like most anxiety sufferers I come in to contact with, you probably don’t sleep too well at night? So if you get the chance, make up for it at any point during the day with a short nap or relaxation exercise such as deep breathing or meditation, or even just sitting down with a cup of tea and a book for 10 minutes.
6. Don’t hold grudges! Shout at a dog, its ears go back and it looks humble! Then within seconds it’s happy again and it’s your best friend! As a human who suffers from anxiety, you might have an angry word or moment, and then find yourself dwelling on it for the next week! Be like your doggie counterpart, live in the moment, forget, forgive, move on and live your life! Think dogs worry about whether they will be walked or when they will be getting fed?
7. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey! Most dogs love going on walks or in the car, they don’t care where they are going – they’re just going, and that’s enough. Who cares where life takes you, just enjoy the ride! Life’s too short, and no matter what you believe, you’re only going around once!
8. Love unconditionally! Never question the love of those close to you, when you hit low spots, they still love you! Just because you’re going through a bad time, the world doesn’t hate you, stop worrying and stop pushing people away. Be like the dog, love all the people in your life and love them like they are your life!
9. Death is inevitable! Yes, it happens! Dogs don’t care about it, nor should you! It happens to all of us, and worrying about it, isn’t doing you any favours!
10. Dog is God spelled backwards – I have no clue what relevance this has and im certainly not religious, but hey, maybe someone will get something out of this?
So, to finally spell it out, the dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment! Dogs are generally happy, kind, caring and want to please. Dogs don’t mope about feeling sorry for themselves, (unless they really are ill or something hurts) and your dog will never hold a grudge for longer than a few seconds. They also don’t have unrealistic expectations of people and then get arsey with those people when those expectations aren’t met!
So next time you start to over-think, or worry about stuff that you actually know doesn’t even matter and you can feel the anxiety start to rise, grab the lead, grab a ball, watch the reaction of your dog and how happy you’ve just made them, then get outside and allow them to teach you how to enjoy yourself!
My two - gorgeous aren't they!
"A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than yourself!"