by Patricia Moore http://www.soft-hearted.com
For the eighteeth consecutive year, April has been designated as National Stress Awareness Month. We most likely won’t be reading or viewing much about this in our media since they seem collectively bent on creating strees for us so I decided to look toward a source I have right here at home to learn about stress and how to more effectively deal with it; my pets. Our pets can teach us a great deal about how to deal with the stresses and disquietude of our life today.
1) The Here And Now – We tend to observe and then internalize our world and all of the chaos, in so doing whether we are viewing television, negotiating traffic while trying to complete chores, trying to navigate throught the latest “please listen closely; our options have changed” message we ignore what is going on in our own environment, our own bodies. We are ignoring the “here and now”.
Pets live in the right now, this moment world. Every treat is the very best treat ever, every walk is the most fun and exciting walk they ever took, every hug and belly scratch is the most nurturing and special one they ever felt. The difference is that they are not caught up in the “out there” chaos; what’s happening tomorrow, why is this happening now, what’s going on over- analyzed world we immerse ourselves in. What matters is the right here, right now, who is with me and how can I enjoy their company world.
2) “Cat Naps” and Meditation – Pets nap A LOT, while probably not practical for us, there is a lesson to be learned here. Observe your pets, often when they are supine, are they really napping? Often times they are staring fixedly ahead just breathing. Are they worrying about their next meal, who loves them, what tomorrow brings? Likely not. They are in the moment, being one with their bodies and simply breathing in and out. We can learn a lesson in this. A short nap or two may be in order for your day but if that isn’t a possibility, take a few moments, gaze straight ahead at a fixed point, go inside your body and think about your breaths, take a few deep nice breaths; belly rise….belly falls….. You will be surprised at the resulting sense of calm.
3) Frequent Stretches – How often do you see your cats, dogs, hamsters even birds take a big long stretch and shake it out? We can learn from this too. Our poor bodies are pulling in all of the daily stressors and becoming more and more tight, taut, closed off as the day progresses. Think about your pets; once in a while they just stretttccchhh… Try it. Take a deep breath, lean back over your chair, throw your arms in the air and stretttccchhh. Then shake it out. Stand up from that subway seat or office chair, now up on your tiptoes, stretch those calves, feet and ankles and take a deep breath, let it out slowly and shake it off. In the morning, take one more minute after that alarm or when the baby is crying for his next meal and stretch your body, get that blood and good oxygen flowing into all of the sleepy corners of your tissues and mind. Our pets do this frequently throughout the day and we can observe and learn this lesson from them.
April brings with it plenty of stress (tax time, quarterly reports, etc) perhaps that is why it has been designated National Stress Awareness Month. April also brings daffodils, more hours of sunshine and the promise of warmer days and nights. Look at your pets, watch the way they navigate through their day, learn some lessons from them and, most of all, enjoy your here and now with them as they so readily do with you.