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Our Dogs Have No Idea There Is A Pandemic: What I Am Learning From Them

I remember when I first saw how fast the latest strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, was spreading throughout China and next, Italy. I thought to myself, “we had better prepare; we are in for a rough time when (not if) it reaches the United States.”

My husband and I watched with dread as the first verified cases reached the United States and then, our area. I immediately felt a sinking feeling in my stomach as I began to think about how it would affect my pet sitting company, Furry Footsteps, LLC.  I was preparing for the oncoming busy vacation season, which is typically my busiest time of year beginning with spring break. I have a ton of clients that reserve their dates for the whole year beginning roughly  the middle to end of December, with bookings really rolling in after the New Year. By the time the virus hit our shores, I had reservations through November.

When the first verified cases were reported in the two counties nearest to us, the early returns and cancellations began. First, a client returned early from a vacation, then a couple of vacation contracts I was to begin right after canceled. After that, cancellations began pouring in so quickly that I had to turn my phone off, take a break and regroup. Several deep breaths later and a long walk with my dogs helped to calm my brain waves and relax me enough to begin to think strategically mindfully about the current situation.

As I began to reflect on the best course of action for the coming difficulties, I looked at my dogs crashed on the couch next to me, happy and snoozing after their long walk and dinner. Our cat, Dr. Spock was curled up in front of his favorite heater vent a few feet away.

Even with everything going on, all they knew was that there is a structure and routine that is to be followed in their lives and they don’t just expect, it, they DO it! This state of being is so conducive to the calm energy that attracts us to one another and keeps our lives balanced and comfortable. They live in a state of mindfulness that we can all benefit from during this unpredictable and quite honestly, scary time that we are experiencing. Watching them, my whole mindset experienced a great shift.

The emotional support that I received just from being with my pets enabled me to experience a state of mindfulness that really helped me to understand that, whatever is going on, we can always take care of ourselves to the best of our abilities despite difficult times.  We can do our part to being kind to and supporting one another.

I will share a few practices that give me balance and peace of mind. Hopefully, they will encourage you to think about what you can to be your best self during this challenging time.

Exercise Regularly

You may decide to opt out of going to your local gym (and rightfully so), but that doesn’t mean that you have to become a total couch potato. While social distancing is a must, you can still walk, jog or run your dogs. Make it a family event and enjoy getting some fresh air while building your immune system and strengthening your heart! Be sure to keep at least a six foot distance from any other folks you may encounter if at all possible. You can also look online for strength training and yoga videos. YouTube is a great free resource to find any kind of exercise video that you like.

 Disconnect

With most of us spending more time at home, it is tempting to spend more time on social media. After all, we all want to be informed  with the latest updates and information about COVID-19 as well as keep in touch with our family members and friends. But sometimes, information overload can cause stress levels to increase. A lot of misinformation is distributed on social media which can cause undue fear and frustration. Commit to planning blocks of time off of social media and only get your news updates through reputable news sources as well as your local news outlets. Be sure to verify any news that you read by fact checking information; Snopes is an excellent  resource for accurate fact checking,

Get Plenty Of Rest and Stay Hydrated

Now that we have an opportunity to be at home more than usual, why not establish a new sleep and hydration pattern? Commit to seven to eight hours of sleep and drink plenty of water. Both of these practices help to keep a strong, healthy immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria.  And honestly, who couldn’t use the extra rest?

Engage In Hobbies  Or Catch Up On Tasks That You Are Normally Too Busy To Do

As long as you can do them at home, that is! Even for folks that are working from home, there will most likely be more downtime than normal due to not having to deal with commute times and other time zappers that we deal with every day. Read a book that you’ve been picking up and putting down while snuggling with your pet. Establish a regular yoga routine and commit to sticking to it. Dust off those free weights or home exercise equipment and actually use them! Teach your puppy a new trick. Make some healthy recipes for your family that you have been wanting to try. Clean out closets or organize your cupboards. Binge watch your favorite shows that you haven’t been able to get to.  Keeping busy with things that relax you and checking off to-do lists keeps you occupied and helps to keep a calm energy and environment for everyone in the household.

Practice Mindfulness  And Help Someone However You Can

COVID-19 is a scary, unexpected virus that many of us did not anticipate the devastating effects of, and it is easy to fall into despair over thinking the future. Surely, it is a reminder that there are many things in life that are out of our control. The best we can do is to follow the protocols for social distancing, hygiene and monitoring our health status by taking note of any symptoms and seeing a doctor IF necessary. We should support and help each other to the best of our abilities because we really do need one another to survive!

Since our daily lives have slowed down, it is important to focus on what we do have in the moment. We have safe places to protect ourselves and at-risk populations. We have supplies to be comfortable and healthy. Our families, which include our pets, provide peace of mind and love. There are many that cannot claim these blessings. If you are in company of the fortunate to have all the supplies and shelter you need during this difficult time, check out some ways to support others during COVID-19.

As I sit at my kitchen table finishing this blog, sipping coffee, two of our dogs alternately check on me (I assume to gauge my progress because it is time for a walk according to them), and hop on their favorite chair to gaze out the window at the almost spring sun filtering through. They give me such a sense of well-being because of their consistency, no matter what is going on. This helps to remind me that we can keep a healthy alternate routine until this time period passes. We can learn so much from their ability to truly live in the moment, if we open our minds to receive!

How has your household adapted to the quarantine? What are you doing to stay balanced? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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