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Dogs Can Help You Deal With Holiday Stress

Elvis Elvis

Do you know how dogs can help you deal with holiday stress? A quick and simple answer, would be: just by being true to their nature. A dog, well, just is a dog. And therein lie the clues.

If you’re someone who gets stressed out approaching the seasonal holidays, don’t despair. You’re in good company. Almost 53% of North Americans feel the same way. The lucky ones have dogs.

Let’s face it. Good intentions aside, for many of us, the holidays are a vicious trap waiting to snare us into the marketing hype, not so friendly in-laws, or just being alone on Christmas day. But let’s look at our dogs and see how they handle stress. They can give us a lot of great advice.

Dogs Can Help You Deal With Holiday Stress

  1. Get Plenty of Sleep – ever notice that dogs take care of business first? They eat, run outside to do their stuff and settle in for a good sleep. We on the other hand, over commit ourselves, spend far too much time trying to figure out who gave us what last year so we can reciprocate appropriately, and throw it all on our credit cards. It’s enough to give you ulcers! Learn from Fido: turn in early at least 2 nights per week coming up to the holiday season. Your body, your co-workers, and your dog will thank you.

  2. Get Plenty of Air – now your dog, whenever he/she is stressed knows what to do. They pant, to get in as much air as possible, as a way of dealing with whatever is stressing them. The clue here is: take time to breathe! North Americans are mostly shallow breathers. Try to remember to take 3-4 deep breaths, 2-3 times per day. Believe me, this works. The key behind many successful meditation programs is breath control (a.k.a. deep relaxed breathing). Ever see a jittery Tibetan monk? No, I didn’t think so.

  3. Drink Plenty of Water – now our dogs do this without even thinking. What do we do? We reach for another cup of dehydrating coffee. Worse yet a soda. Even worse, too many cocktails at the office party. Make time for water! Eight glasses a day is recommended, but just try to reach for a bottle of water 1-2 times a day. Dehydration can be debilitating. And it places our physical body and internal organs under unnecessary stress.

  4. Take Time to Stretch – our dogs do this several times a day. We almost never do it. We walked around all tensed up, being busy, our minds jumping from one next thing to do to the next. Try to stop what you are doing at least twice a day. Take a deep breath and slowly stretch your body upwards – extend that crouched spine! Point your toes and stretch your arms. Better yet, go to the gym 3 times a week. Physical exercise does not have to mean pain. A good stretch can relieve a lot of tensed up muscles. Try dancing to some favorite music. (our dog loves ABBA.)

  5. Make Time to Play – our dogs are always up to a game or two. Make time for yourself to do something fun at least once per week. Too many of us, put ourselves last on the “Things to Do” list. So near the top of your list, put in a break for yourself. Go for a walk to a local museum, the library, or drop in at your church. Buy yourself something special. Whatever, you choose, try to be aware that your are doing something just for you that is fun.

  6. Create Down Time – ever notice how our dogs sometimes want to withdraw from the hustle and bustle and just take a quiet break? There’s a good reason for that. Removing ourselves from excess stimulation relaxes the mind. Twenty to thirty minutes a day is plenty of time for ourselves. And try not to over commit yourself. Christmas is a time for friends, but sometimes it’s just too many commitments. We are, unfortunately, just human, and sometimes that means we need to take a break.

  7. Try to be Friendly – now dogs do this hands down…well most of them. Smile. Be cheerful. Make the effort. You’ll be amazed that just by engaging in this planned behavior, you will feel better. A smile goes a lot further than a snarl. Your effort may make someone else relax too.

  8. Remember to Say “I love you” – unconditional love is a natural for dogs. No judgment, just good old love. Every time we say “I love you” to our spouses, children, our pets, our extended families and friends, our blood pressure drops. And our stress evaporates a bit. And we feel better knowing that all of us are interconnected in this universe. Love is the glue.

  9. Lend a Hand – our dogs know right away when something isn’t right. Call it intuition, but they are always there for us. One of the best ways to de-stress is to move away from your own problems and help someone who needs your genuine attention. No fan fare, just do it. You’ll feel great, and the things that were stressing you out will seem a little further away.

  10. Eat Conservatively – now this is something that our dogs don’t usually do. They will eat until they get sick many times, especially if the food happens to be something they love. That’s the lesson for us. With all the holiday goodies being offered, try a little restraint. We can still enjoy the festive treats without pigging out. And we will reduce the digestive stress on our bodies. Christmas goodies are usually high in fat and sugar (and they taste so good). But our bodies are used to a slightly less rich diet. So try to eat lightly. I promise you, you will feel better.

Finally, make time for your dog. Pay a little extra attention to your pooch. Try to break the routine and take a different walk. Your dog will love it and you might just get to see something new and beautiful. And sure as there will be a Sunday in every week, your pooch will love you back tenfold.

Christmas celebrations are supposed to mean ” Goodwill and Peace”. It’s a time for giving, not getting. Slow down and give yourself and your pooch some goodwill and peace. You’ll be in a better frame of mind to spread it around.

So now that you know how dogs can help you deal with holiday stress, have yourself a Merry Christmas.