Today (10th October) is Mental health day.
So many people struggle with this illness nowadays and it's slowly becoming more spoken about, but still no where near enough & not taken seriously enough either.
TV is running a great advert at the moment with the main message "talk about it, Talk to each other". We can so easily hide from talking to others in this day and age because we have the gadgets to "lose ourselves". We have all done it, sitting on public transport or in a queue at the doctors and rather than engaging in chat with the people around us, we fumble for our phone and stare blankly at facebook or instagram. I believe this is detrimental to our health as we are a communicative species, using talk as our way to release anxiety, stress & fears, when we keep them bottled up they start to damage our health, physically and mentally.
I have struggled with mental health issues for many many years after going through some traumatic issues and the last one being a witness to a murder and trying to deal with the fall out after it, resulting in PTSD.
That story is for another time but I believe there are two areas where owning a dog can really help with our mental health.
The first is just having a dog or a pet in our lives. It is scientifically proven that owning a dog or cat can reduce our blood pressure and anxiety and stress. The very action of stroking and cuddling our pet relaxes us so much.
A dog is a best friend and family member, how many of us have told our beloved pet everything, from how we feel or what a crap day we had at work, we have cried on them when life is too much or we are hurt by the world.
The amazing thing about having a dog by our sides is that they don't communicate with language, yes they bark and make noises but they don't speak our language at all so when we speak to them they don't really understand what we are saying, but they feel our energy & emotions and react accordingly to the energy we are giving them through body language and feelings. This is incredibly soothing to us as we don't have to explain, we can just be ourselves and they will not ask for anything else.
We bond so closely with our best friends that they just know what sort of mood we are in. I have mentioned before how one of my Yorkies, Herbie goes upstairs when my son & I put the football on, because he knows and senses the mood will be more intense and he doesn't want to be around it!
The other reason for owning a dog and helping our mental health is exercise.
When we own a dog we HAVE to go for walks, yes there is the quick rush around the block before work, but I mean a proper walk, for an hour. During this time we not only bond with our pet but we breathe differently, we raise our heart beat, we lower our blood pressure, we burn off energy and reset our minds, we take in the beauty of creation and we may even meet another dog walker and have a friendly chat. Dog walking is so good for our mental health. It has helped me over the 6 years of running Walking Tall dog walking and pet services. I can awake in the morning with a dark cloud "fogging" my mind but as I get out and interact with the gorgeous dogs I care for and walk, play and talk to them, I lift up and happiness engulfs me, changing my mindset.
So on this day thinking about mental health and maybe others around us who struggle with all the various factors associated with it, maybe also look at our little four legged friend staring up at us and know that they have been put on this earth to come alongside us and walk with us on this journey we call "life".
I know my dogs over the years have been there at the right moments to change my mind from dark thoughts to light. I thank God for His grace & His gift of giving us animals to help us see there is so much more to life & the simplicity of it.
until next time...
Lucy the Lab and I having a cuddle