Life can be stressful, for us and for our pets! Thankfully, it’s easy to learn the best ways to practice self-care with your pet so you can avoid burnout and increase you and your dog and cat’s well-being.
What is self-care?
We’ve all heard so much in the past few years about self-care, but what is it? Self-care is pretty much what it sounds like: taking care of yourself. In our world of constant contact and ever-present technology, it can mean taking a step back from your modern responsibilities. It’s vital to nourish your body, mind, and spirit, avoiding burnout and boosting your happiness along the way!
What does it really mean to practice “self-care” in a real, meaningful way? I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly vulnerable to being sold on the latest new thing to help me be less stressed, happier, and more productive, all while trying to keep to my budget. The good news is you don’t need to invest anything but your time into real self care. Yes, there are plenty of products out there for you and your pet that might help or add to your self-care practices, but they are not necessary for creating real, meaningful stress reduction for you and your pets!
A few of the most accessible and effective forms of self-care are simple! The most important things are getting enough rest, exercising, eating well, and taking time to have some fun. The best part is that these are all things we can enjoy with our furry companions.
Self-Care Tip #1: Get Better Sleep
One recent study shows that the amount of sleep you get affects your mental health and well-being, with depressive symptoms increasing when you’re not getting enough sleep, especially for women. Here are some easy top tips that will benefit you and help with your self-care with your pet:
- Create and keep to a bedtime routine. The best routine is to go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day. You should also try to do the same things before bed each night. While some variety is good, dogs thrive on having some structure in their day and cats are creatures of habit so a routine will help everyone.
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary, and do the same for your pet’s sleeping area! Your bedroom should be free of electronics and exude calm with soft colors, clean bedding, and minimal clutter. If your pet doesn’t sleep with you, make sure their sleeping area is in a quiet, low traffic place. Treat yourself to a new set of sheets or a new pillow, and clean your cat or dog’s bedding. Fresh bedding helps everyone snuggle down and get some well-deserved shut eye.
- Take it easy an hour before your bedtime. Sticking to calming activities right before it’s time to turn out the lights helps signal to your brain— and also to your pet— that it’s almost time to go to sleep. Save exercising, our next tip for practicing self-care with your pet, for an earlier time in the day.
Self-Care Tip #2: Exercise, Even A Little!
Another recent study supports what we’ve all been hearing for years, that exercise increases your well-being and reduces your stress levels. This is great news for your dog, who would probably love some extra walks with you! But even if your dog or cat is on the more sedentary side, even a little activity is good for them. Make sure to talk to your vet about what kind of exercise might be best for your fur baby! Here are a few suggestions for incorporating self-care with your pet through exercise into your Charleston lifestyle:
- The first and most obvious suggestion is to go for a walk! Check out some of our favorite dog walking spots in Charleston or just take a fun stroll around your neighborhood. Most cats aren’t necessarily inclined to go for a walk in your closest Charleston park or around your neighborhood. But if you have an adventurous kitty, they could join you on a harness and leash. You’ll want to make sure to introduce the harness to them slowly, however, and make sure to follow all vet-recommended safety precautions to make sure your outside adventure goes smoothly. If you have a dog, there are plenty of ways to make sure you’re doing it like a pro! The point is to get out and stretch your legs, get those endorphins flowing, and enjoy our beautiful city.
- Interactive toys can also be a great way for you and your dog or cat to get some exercise! Try playing tug with a determined dog and you’ll quickly realize how much energy it takes to keep up! Cats who aren’t up for a walk might prefer to get some activity by climbing up and down their very own cat tower or safely mounted wall shelves designed just for cats. Their natural curiosity will be just the motivation they need to get moving! There are also plenty of interactive cat toys that encourage kitties of all shapes and sizes to engage their hunting instincts and dig, pounce, burrow, dive, and jump. Try a new interactive toy for your dog or cat while you workout to a free YouTube video and you’ll both get all the benefits of exercise.
- Stretching is an important part of exercising, and is also something you can do with your pet! There are lots of simple stretches that you and your dog can both practice for increased mobility and self-care! Pets love to participate in what their beloved pet parents are doing, so try including them in a stretching session.
Self-Care Tip #3: Play!
This one may seem pretty self-explanatory, but play is so important for humans and animals! It brings joy, reduces stress, and increases your sense of well-being. And it’s just plain fun! Luckily for pet parents, animals are great at play, no matter their age!
- It should be easy to tap into your dog or cat’s natural inclination to have a good time. You may need to schedule some play time, or get your pet a new toy to try out if they’re not as enthusiastic as you are. If your pet has lots of toys, you can put away some of them for a few weeks. Then when you pull them back out after a month or so they’ll seem brand new!
- Charleston is also a very pet-friendly city and has lots of restaurants and events that welcome your dog. Check out the Holy City Sinner Events Calendar and filter by “Animals and Pets” for all the local pet-friendly events coming up around Charleston.
Practicing self-care with your pet will make you happy!
No matter how you decide to connect with your pet and practice self-care, remember that it doesn’t have to be a huge, life-changing commitment or investment of time and money. You’ll reap all the benefits of self-care by thinking of it as a practice and doing a little bit each day. Whatever you’re able to incorporate into your day with your pet will be enough and will make both of you much happier!
Charleston Dog Walker provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in your home that is customized to your pet’s needs. We’re so happy you found us and we know your pet is, too! We would truly be honored to be your pet care provider. Give us a call at 843-580-2212 or contact us to get more information about how we can help your pet!