During this pandemic, there have been many compromises needed to adjust. It has likely affected every aspect of your day, from work to exercise to entertainment and even your social network. While it is still early, there is no way of telling how this will shape and affect generations moving forward. The lack of touch and social interactions can have adverse effects on health and mental wellbeing. The worry is that this could further establish a sense of isolation even after the resolution of the pandemic. It is recommended that you find ways to manage and occupy your day and animals might be the key to keeping you happy and healthy during the pandemic.
Pets and Stress
Pets of all shapes and sizes can feed our emotional needs. This includes dogs, cats, birds, horses, goats, ducks, snakes, fish, iguanas—the list goes on and on. An animal has the innate ability to bring comfort to our environment. They respond to you in ways that are never judgmental and their presence has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Studies show that daily interactions with a pet are likely to lower stress levels and just being near and around your pet can offer similar benefits. This is especially encouraging if you have been struggling with social isolation.
Pets and Motivation
It is easy to spend an entire day or even week on the couch, watching television and snacking. Over time these practices create bad habits that can lead to other bad habits and routines that will be hard to break the longer you participate in them. It is not an easy time, so, understandably, you might feel like shutting off and closing out the rest of the world and living in your negative thoughts. However, it is important not to fall into a funk and sleep on your recovery. Instead, you must find ways to seize opportunities, stay connected, and motivate yourself to maintain recovery, and a pet is an excellent motivator.
For as much as a pet can give you, they also rely on you to give back, feeding them, playing with them, and keeping their environment safe and clean. Pets will get you out of bed in the morning, which is excellent for structure. Depending on your pet’s needs, you might find yourself going for a morning walk with the dog, clipping and brushing a horse, mowing the grass around the pond for the ducks, and cleaning the chickens’ coop, etc. Animals can take a lot of upkeep. Your persistence will strengthen the trust and bonds you share with your pets, and if nothing else is accomplished in your day, you can take solace in knowing that you gave the most to your pet that day.
Because pets need to be cared for, they also instill a sense of responsibility in you. It is sometimes hard to maintain or even develop a sense of purpose in recovery–especially now if you are unemployed or are working from home. The absence of the reminders that helped create the new you are gone, but your pet is now that constant reminder of your worth. The happier they are, the happier you should be, because you understand that it is ultimately because of your leadership and care that your animal feels safe and content. Even if you take away the pandemic threat, a pet is a fantastic way to put meaning and purpose in your life.
This sense of purpose and meaning should make you feel proud. Science suggests that those who care for pets and attain this kind of leadership and purpose are more likely to become motivated in other areas of their life. This is because when you have something that cares for you so much and feels safe around you, it is empowering.
It has been hard in current times to remain connected to others. Even with some of your closest friends and family members, your connection may be weakened because of the inability to visit in-person. While phone calls, video chats, and online meetings have come to replace in-person activities, for the time being, these methods of communication can only motivate you so far because once you close the screen or hang up the phone, you may still be alone with your thoughts. However, your pet is there too and your pet can help bridge these feelings of disconnect between phone conversations and online meetings.
Pets also bring people together. If you feel that you are not getting enough from your online support groups, some groups exist solely of pet owners that include every subgenre of pets from dogs to ant farm communities. Perhaps seeking these communities will offer you a positive outlet without having to talk about your past or recovery. This is not to say that talking about your recovery, your past, and your emotions are not vital to recovery, but so is moving on and growing into a new you. Pet owners have a sacred bond with their pets and they enjoy sharing it with others. Try to seek these communities so you may share your joy of pet ownership with others. If nothing else, it is another great option to stay connected during this time.
Pets offer an unconditional love that is free of judgment and resentment. The deeper the bond, the more meaningful the connection. If you have been at a loss to find motivation, consider getting a pet or spending time with animals. You might also consider rescuing an animal from a shelter or a harmful situation. Together you can support one another during these trying times. You might even find other pet owners to add to your support network. Understand that a pet is a responsibility, so if you are willing to incorporate a pet’s cost, the care, and responsibilities into your life, then owning a pet might be right for you. If you are uncertain or unable to manage your recovery in making any decisions, it is time to seek help. True Recovery offers 24/7 care that is proactive in finding the best care for you. We are also lovers of animals and believe animals to be a primary source of a meaningful and lasting recovery. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.