5 Reasons Why Having A Dog Is Good For Your Mental Health

Having a dog is great for your mental health! Dogs can do wonders to relieve stress, anxiety and depression. They are also helpful in providing social support. And they don’t judge you or leave when you need them the most. 

In this blog post, we will talk about 5 reasons why having a dog is good for your mental health!1. Science has confirmed it!

There are so many studies confirming that pets are good for our health in general.

Research has shown that people with dogs tend to have lower rates of heart disease, depression, and anxiety than those without dogs. 

It’s also been proven that owning a pet reduces stress levels by lowering blood pressure, slowing heart rates, and relaxing tensed up muscles.

2. Having a dog beats loneliness

People who live alone can get lonely, but dogs provide the most wonderful companionship. 

Your dog loves nothing more than to be with you, whether it be out on a walk, playing in the garden or snuggling up on the sofa. You’ll never find another human being as loyal to you as your dog is.

Pets also help people feel more confident about themselves due to the boost in self-esteem they experience when interacting with an animal that loves them unconditionally.

Your dog will always greet you at the door when you come home from work or school, which is especially helpful if you’re someone who lives on their own.

Ironically, having a dog can also help you feel less lonely by helping you connect with others.

3. Social connection

Dogs are a great way to initiate conversation with other pet parents, thereby opening up the opportunity for you to meet new people and make connections.

It’s not just other pet parents either. I know so many people in my community because they stop to chat at my gate, or out on a walk, and ask about my dog. 

Pets also provide an excellent ice-breaker between humans that can be useful in social settings such as parties where introductions may not flow as easily or when meeting someone for the first time.

4. Someone to talk to

Dogs are fantastic listeners. 

I forget how many times I’ve poured my heart out to my pups. A dog will always listen to what you say, so it’s easier to express your feelings without fear of judgment or resentment.

Sometimes, we don’t really need someone to talk to, so much as needing to feel heard, to get something off our chests. 

Dogs don’t interrupt (well, some don’t…), they don’t change the subject, nor do they say “Yeah, I know how you feel, the same thing happened to me….”. They just listen.

5. Physical benefits lead to mental health benefits

Unless your dog hates going out for walks, having a dog is good for your physical health. Going out for a walk, even a gentle one, is good for you on many levels. Regular physical exercise has been shown to relieve mental stress and anxiety.

We know that inactivity can contribute to depression but going for a walk has been shown to have the opposite effect – it actually leads to feelings of happiness. Having a dog is good for your physical AND your mental health!

If your dog dislikes going out for walks – and there are some that find walks stressful – some playtime in the home will benefit both of you. Playing chase around the house, a gentle game of tug – simple games like this will have you both feeling better.

Playing with your dog also helps to lower stress-related hormones. What better excuse could you want for pet play time?

Let’s not forget too, that on a day when you really don’t feel like getting out of bed, having a dog gives you a good reason to. Having a purpose – another being to care for and look after, can give us a much-needed purpose and structure in our lives.

Conclusion 

When it comes to adding happiness and joy into your life, there are few things better than a dog. They provide the unconditional love we all so crave in this world of negativity, fear, and anxiety. 

Sure they may not be able to give you that raise or promotion at work but I guarantee no one will ever do as much for your mental health without even trying! 

If you love dogs but can’t have your own, consider helping outat a local rescue. You won’t regret it 🙂

This is a guest post written by Trey from caninecompilation.com

8 Favorite Photos Of The Month

I love taking pictures, I think it’s so much fun to capture the moment while you’re in it. I also love the fact pictures hold memories and are made of these unforgettable times. I mean, when do you take a picture of something you want to forget about?

I’m sharing 8 of my favorite photos from the month, They consists of cuteness, inspiration, self care, and just plan willpower.

This is my new baby, Yamper. You’ve seen me speak about him (a lot) on the blog and even though I don’t pick him up until May 1st he’s already melted my heart. I have a chronic illness (Bipolar 1 & Anxiety suck!) that causes good days and severely bad days, so I thought about making him a service dog but my thoughts for right now are to bond with him very closely. He’s going to be my roll dog – literally.

A few weekends ago my boyfriend and I decided to go camping. I love it, it’s my new found relaxation self care. When we can always, the campsites fill up fast (especially those on the water). It’s so relaxing with the fresh air, the sounds of the water, being on the boat surrounded by nothing but water and beautiful scenery. However, I can’t divot without my air mattress and my battery operated mini fan. This photo was taken at Kerr Lake, NC. Everything about this lake is beautiful and quiet.

I also have a cat (name Quin) who’s adorable and very very independent, so when he hangs around I try to make the most of it. In this photo he’s taking up camp on my desk while I was trying to get client work done. After walking across the keyboard multiple times he settled down right beside me and fell asleep. I thought it was too cute how he fell asleep. Life is shard for him huh? He has a thyroid problem which is why his hair looks like it’s been electrocuted.

Give me all the books! I’m currently on “Red Velvet Cupcake Murder” because I finished “Cinnamon Roll Murder” in like 3 days. I love these Joanne Fluke books because it’s about a lady (Hannah) who owns a bakery with her assistant Lisa. Hannah finds all sorts of trouble tryin to help sole murder mysteries. plus, the book has recipes that she mentions in each chapter. My boyfriend has been begging me for years (even when we weren’t together) to make him something from the book.

Although I have changed my background (to column for organization and changed my folders to ones that are “glitter” to math my new background I still love this picture. I was having one of the worst anxiety/mania ridden days I’ve had in a long time. I wanted to do everything and nothing at the same time. My to do list was growing and I couldn’t get anything done because I couldn’t focus on just one thing. This photo reminds me that even on bad days there is still hope and inspiration to be found in these small moments.

I don’t post a lot of pictures of myself, I feel like an imposter when I do. Like I shouldn’t;t be posting them because you guys are here fir the content not to look at my mug. This photo was taken about an hour after I woke up one day. Again, this photo is a reminder that although days can be bad there are silver lining in some. I got up after this photo and had my mocha. Before having my mocha as you can see with my bedhead, no makeup, and non-existent expression I wasn’t feeling it that morning. This shot is very candid and I didn’t know if I would put it up or not but decided the hell with it.

Teqnically these two photos weren’t taken in the month of April but they’re worth sharing. What do you do with photo’s you love and enjoy looking at? I use CanvasPeople (this is not an affiliate link) for photos I want to hang on the wall that have a unique feel to them. I’ve started a canvas wall art gallery in my room where I can display these beautiful works of art; like the one pictured below. The photos are printed on canvas and come ready to hang, which is pretty awesome. I fell in love with this print which was from the top of the waterfall of Catawba Falls in NC, we also got the bridge from New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia hanging in the living room.

I love photography although all I have right now is an iPhone 11 and my sense of scenery. Sometimes it takes at least 10 tried before I get a photo I even remotely like but in the end it’s worth it.

Leave me a comment if any of these photos resonate with you. You can find inspiration everywhere even if it is just looking at a cute fluffy face or a bridge. A lot of these pictures show up on my Instagram too, you can check that out as well, if you like what ya see then give me a follow then leave a comment and I’ll follow you back.

7 Important Steps for Breaking Unhealthy Habits

Habits usually start out as slow steps or small choices that lead to actions becoming a part of our daily routine. Before we know it years can go by as unhealthy habits can be our safe place, our crutch, our sense of sanctuary. We may not even realize we are performing some of these habits, they become part of our subconscious operation. Like most challenges in life, breaking old cycles and creating new ones in our habits and coping mechanisms requires a thoughtful holistic approach.

1) Identify the Actual Root Cause

It’s vital to not only identify what the habit is, but WHY you even perform this action in the first place. I can’t say I’ve ever met a smoker who claims to use tobacco products because they enjoy coughing or raising their cancer risk. Smoking is typically bore from the need for calm and stress relief, until it becomes a physical craving and need. Stress can manifest in a wide array of behaviors such as nail biting, over-eating, angry outbursts, smoking, drinking, I’ve even met people who had slowly removed their eyelashes from plucking them during stressful times. Stress is just one variable in unhealthy habits. Understanding why, can help you identify a plan of action.

Some examples of Root Cause of habits: 

• Overeating due to equating food with love and safety

• Smoking related to stress and seeking relief from our bodies nicotinic receptors

• Nail Biting, Hair pulling, Skin Picking due to anxiety

• Excessive Consumption of Sugar/Carbs can change your Gut Flora to naturally crave them more

• Excessive Screen time on TV or Phone as a need to escape reality

• Being a Pack Rat of items out of a fear of loneliness or loss

2) Identify Triggers

After Identifying the Root Cause, you want to prepare for urges by recognizing what triggers your habit. It’s easy to say you will rely on your will power, but if we’re not prepared for the moments of weakness we become easy prey to mental chains of comfort and habit. You can identify triggers by reflecting on what is going on when you perform the habit and journaling is a powerful way to keep track of and identify triggers. For example, maybe you pick your skin when you’re nervous, so you create a plan by buying a stress ball instead. This will keep your hands busy. Ideally, you can remove the trigger from your routine or environment. However, if you cannot entirely avoid the trigger you can create an action place for alternative steps to take. This leads to point number 3..

3) Replace the Habit with a Healthier Alternative

The Quitting “Cold Turkey” Approach to breaking a habit is often unsuccessful for many, and It’s not due to lack of willpower. If you look into how the human brain works we operate on complex systems, connections, and subconscious workings that direct all of our choices big or small. Willpower has nothing to do with it. By simply stopping a bad habit, you are creating a void in your routine and coping mechanisms that leaves room for over indulgence of said habit or you may even replace one habit for another. For example, folks who quit smoking may be prone to snacking to replace the time lost in their routine and lack of another healthy alternative. It’s true, we’re not actually “Breaking Habits” but what we are actually doing is exchanging harmful behavior for a more constructive one. If you love soda, consider seltzer or flavored water in replacement. Instead of smoking you may find relief with the oral fixation and (especially if you like menthol) chewing gum or mints for the minty shock to the taste palette.

4) Enlist a Support Person or Group

Enlist anyone you trust to be a support to you while you’re making changes in your lifestyle. Sometimes we indulge in our habits when nobody is watching, and this can make the indulgence even sweeter. However, if there are loved ones helping you hold yourself accountable for your behavior it becomes a little harder to mentally push aside the consequences of our actions. You can’t depend on another person to be your only motivation, but It does help to have a trusted shoulder to lean on to avoid temptations and celebrate our victories.

5) Small Goals are Much Less Daunting

I’m guilty of wanting results FAST. If I don’t see big change or the (often unrealistic) goals I set for myself I feel like giving up entirely. However, this isn’t the best way to be kind to yourself or create a long term plan! For example, if you are trying to find healthier snack alternatives but don’t like many fruits or vegetables start with slow and subtle changes. My guilty pleasure is potatoes!  And who doesn’t love a fresh cut French fries (or Chips for my UK Pals!). I allow myself to have them every once in a blue moon, but without self-restraint I could indulge in them multiple days a week. Instead of frying them you can consider baking them in the oven or air fryer with delicious seasonings. You’re still getting the potatoes, but it’s prepared in a better way by being baked rather than fried in grease. Small Steps for the win! If you wish to get more exercise, start small with only a few days a week at home rather than signing up for a gym, making extensive exercise regimens, and starting slow can prevent injury. Moral of the story here is, small changes are much easier to face than massive life upheavals. Humans naturally enjoy routine, changing the routine too fast can lead to failure.

6) Give Yourself Grace and Patience

Remember as I said at the beginning of the post, our unhealthy habits can form over or sustain themselves for many years. These habits may even feel like part of our identity. Celebrity Model Ashley Graham is a perfect example of this.  A few years ago, she was shamed online and in social media by many folks claiming her choice to lose weight meant she wasn’t an advocate for full bodied women. You may feel a loss of identity with you let go of certain habits. These habits that likely formed over many years of experiences, environmental factors, and maybe even forces outside our control will not go away overnight. If they took years to form, they will take time to break and replace. If you stumble and give in along the way, recognize even though it is a setback, it’s NOT the end of the line. Forgive yourself, be kind to yourself, as you would if you were supporting your loved one in your shoes.

7) Recognize When you Need Professional Help

It’s important to recognize that sometimes a habit is more than just some bad choices or behavior. If your habit has taken control of your routine to the point where you cannot function in daily life without it, you may be faced with an addiction or an issue such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. With an addiction or diagnosable disease you will require some form of support and need tools for coping and manifesting a healthy lifestyle. All the steps above are helpful, but they will not be sufficient for dealing with a serious condition such as addiction. It sounds cliché, but it’s very true that the first step to change is being able to recognize that you have a problem. You wouldn’t let your loved ones suffer in silence, so why would you do that to yourself?

This Guest post was written by Gigi Lee Of Guidance by Gigi. If you enjoy this blog piece you can find more on spirituality, lifestyle, and holistic concepts over at www.guidancebygigi.com/blog.

7 Ways To Recharge Everyday

Everyday is different for everyone, some days are just too much to take though. Relaxing eases stress, helps relieve anxiety, depression, and sleeping problems. Some of us don’t recharge enough or destress enough to get the full results of the act.

When I get home I have a nightly routine (not so much a morning routine, I’m not really a morning person) and I don’t know what I’d do without it, I’d be totally lost. If you don’t have an evening/night routine I highly suggest you look into it.

(This post contains affiliate links, you can read the full disclosure here)

Anyway, when I unwind I watch a movie, paint, or read. I don’t check emails, scroll through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or do anything that can be done during “business hours” by doing this I keep a work life and home life balance. I keep things simple. Some nights I’ll have a lemon tea because it gets colder at night and you’ll find me huddled up on the couch with my fleece blanket.

Why Recharge Everyday?

Recharging isn’t just for electronic devices and cellphones, this tiny little habit may help you live longer as it reduces stress. You’ll feel better, you’ll be more creative, and another added bonus is it’ll help strengthen your immune system. 

It’s important to keep your focus and mind right everyday, wether you need to read a book, take a bath, or do a brain dump (such a weird phrase), or just watch a few episodes of your show. 

I personally listen to lo-fi tunes when I am trying to relax in the evening. The sounds are all different and you never know what will come out next but they’re interested and keep my mind occupied instead of running through my to do list for the next day or the things I’ve done today.


7 Ways To Recharge Everyday:

  1. Take a drive – it doesn’t have to be hours on end just a short 15 or 30 minute drive may help soothe you. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in the middle of rush hour though,
  2. Somedays you just need a day to recharge, ask your boss if you can have a mental health day. Most companies will let you use a vacation day for this but I am not too sure about a sick day.
  3. Turn off your cellphone! This is a huge one for me. Whenever I’ve had too much social media, drama from the social media and friends (Facebook) I like to turn off my phone for a few hours (yes I said hours) the silence is relaxing and it stops the need to be present in every single conversation, which is also a relief.
  4. Journal – I know this is so cliche but hear me out. You get all those thoughts that are rolling around in your head on paper so they don’t bug you anymore. You can look back later at maybe you’ve actually solved a problem for yourself without even knowing. 
  5. Lazy Sundays – I LOVE a lazy Sunday! I can do whatever I want with no rush, hassle, or urgency of any sort. I do meal prep on Sunday but that to me is relaxing, just in the kitchen for a few hours; just me and my glass(s) of wine. 
  6. Take a nap – if this is possible it always helps me, I usually wake up better than I went to sleep. This might include a power nap of only 20-30 minutes. I wish I could do power naps but my naps are like 2-3 hours long. Naps also help in creativity too. So it’s like a two-for one!
  7. Color – yes that might sound childish but adult coloring books are on the rise these days. I have several. Over Christmas my boyfriend surprised me with one of the picture from the trip we took to West Virginia a few months ago that just so happens to be a paint by number! How cool is that, he did good! There are about 29 different colors to work with but at least everything is numbered and yes some of them are microscopic so I may cuss a little but it’ll be worth it.

The trick is to find something that resonates with you, if one of these suggestions stresses you out then take a bath rather than coloring or go for a walk rather than taking a nap. That’s a plus too because you’ll be getting your steps in as well (sorry I recently got a new FitBit and I am a little obsessed with my steps and heart rate at the moment).

15 Ways You Can Deal With Stress

**Disclaimer: I am in no way shape or form a doctor. I am giving help on what has worked and what does work for me.**

Have you ever had one of those days where you are just stressed out to the max? It feels as though you can’t get away from it or do anything right.

A lot of people feel this way a lot of the time. Today’s world doesn’t make this any easier to deal with either.

Although I am more than sure you know what stress is let’s dig a little deeper into it and figure out a few ways to give you a little break from it all.

15 Ways You Can Deal With Stress

What is stress?

Stress is a feeling of emotional and psychical tension. It can come from any feels or thoughts that makes you angry, sad, or that frustrates you. Stress is your body’s way of dealing with demand or a challenge.

Where does stress show up in your body?

When felt threatened your body sends out a ton of stress hormones that include cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones rouse your body for an emergency action.

What are the symptoms or stress?

There are a lot of symptoms that can come along with stress and you can have one or more of these symptoms at once. These symptoms include anxiety, depression, mood swings, tight muscles, unmotivation, restlessness, and trouble making decisions. These are just to name of few of the symptoms and are not limited to.

15 Ways You Can Deal With Stress

Try these ways to help reduce the stressors in your life:

  1. Turn off your phone
  2. Take a long hot bath with replacing music and a facial mask
  3. Turn off the tv, preferably the news
  4. Take a little time to yourself
  5. Grab a book you’ve already read and knock out a few chapters
  6. Play with your pet, animals are always great therapy
  7. Take a nap , if all else fails take a small nap (I say small but my naps usually consist of a few hours)
  8. Watch a good movie. Break out Netflix, Disney+, or Hulu and find a comedy or a romantic comedy to watch ( whatever your genre just to keep your mind off what is stressing you out)
  9. Gets a manicure or pedicure (I love having a pedicure because I love having my feet rubbed and they look so pretty afterwards)
  10. Do deep breathing
  11. Do a hobby or better yet try a new hobby (I’ve recently started loom knitting. I’m only on my first scarf but things are going pretty well. I recommend it as it’s easy, time consuming, and makes you focus)
  12. Talk about your problems you don’t have to go through life alone. If you’re a private person find that one friend that you trust completely, that’s honest, and will listen)
  13. Go easy on yourself (everyone has stressors, that’s just a part of life so don’t be so hard on yourself)
  14. Start a blog (it’s a great way to blog your way to mental health
  15. Do yoga (try these poses for your anxieties over stress and you’ll feel your muscle tension has melted away)

Remember, this too shall pass. I know it’s hard to see it right now but there is always a silver lining even if it seems so far away. Keep up with these ways everyday as a new routine if that helps too.

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