Ever wondered why dogs are so happy? All the time?
They are mindful! Mindfulness is living in the present; paying attention to your senses and focusing on the moment. Think about your dog, every single walk gives them excitement and joy, they are using their senses to enjoy every single thing. They aren't re-living arguments, or dreading events in the future; they are experiencing the moment they are living in right now!
Take care of your mental health, and be more like a dog! Heres how:
1 - Live in the now
Have you ever had that Sunday feeling? Or have you ever felt so consumed by the fact that you're going back to work tomorrow after a long holiday, that you forget to enjoy the moment you're in right now? Dogs don't think about tomorrow, or yesterday, they experience what is happening right now...!
2 - Pay attention to your environment
What does your dog do when you go for a walk in the park? They are likely fascinated by the squirrel in the tree, smelling the horse shaped footprints in the mud, chasing birds, paddling in rivers, drinking puddle water, finding sticks to chew on and play with, and ultimately absorbing every experience. Dogs use all their senses, notice what they do, and try apply it to your own life.
3 – Acceptance
It's pouring down with rain... The scenario will always stay the same - you can't change it, but you can change your mindset. You could grumble and moan that you have to take the dog for a walk, get angry at the muddy footprints and the wet floor, be in a bad mood so much that your dog picks up on your body language and misbehaves, creating a vicious cycle of misery. Or, you could put your wellies on, a warm waterproof jacket and pretend you're a child again, jump in puddles, feel the rain on your face, play games with your dog, have fun, and look forward to a cosy hot chocolate on your return. Mindset matters, accept the situation, but change your mindset.
4 - Relax
Dogs sleep for around 12 - 14 hours every day, and when they're not sleeping they find the time to sunbathe by a window, or curl up by the fire and take that all important time to relax. Self care is important, make sure you find time every day to switch off and relax.
5 - Forgive
Have you ever found yourself obsessing over a nasty fallout years ago, obsessing over things you should have said, or should have done differently? Holding a grudge, feeling bitter or seeking revenge can cause unnecessary pain, physically and emotionally. When we forgive, we free ourselves. You don't have to make amends with everyone who has ever wronged you, but letting go of the hurt and anger will help you feel ok and move on.
6 - Exercise
Every time you exercise, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are reduced, and happy hormones such as endorphins are released into your body. Take advantage of this natural antidepressant and go for a run (instead of a walk) with your dog! You'll sleep better, feel happier and your dog will love it! (They will even be better behaved without all that built up energy)
Don't be too hard on yourself
Maybe it hasn't been your day, week or month... but celebrate the small things. You got out of bed today? Well done! You went for a run? Amazing! You managed to finish a small task at work? Have a gold star! Don't put too much pressure on yourself, take note of the small accomplishments and be proud of what you have achieved.
Dogs love you no matter what, they appreciate everything you do for them, so try and see yourself through your dogs eyes.