My passion in life is to help people find ways to relax in order to reduce stress so they can live healthy, full and content lives. Recently, I came face-to-face with some personal stress, so I feel compelled to share how I cope.
There are many ways we combat stress and the effects of it. I, for one, practice yoga and I get regular massages. But probably my greatest tool for dealing with life’s stresses was spending time with my dog, Primus. Just a few minutes with him, I noticed I stopped thinking about what was bothering me. I relaxed. Cuddling with him was like a meditation practice.
There are plenty of studies about the benefits of having animals in your home but I knew instinctively cuddling with my dog made me feel better. However, I recently lost my precious pup and I noticed the void. I knew what it was as I’ve been through this before.
Four years ago, I lost another dog; his sister, Pixie, and we were both quite lost without her. At that time, I didn’t have many tools to fight off stress as I hadn’t gotten back into a yoga routine and massage wasn’t even on the horizon. In fact, I was in a depression and had been for years but my dog needed me so I’d take him on long walks daily, sometimes several times a day to help him (and me) get through the loss and it ended up having a profound effect on me.
Over the next few months, I noticed an improvement in my overall health and I started making decisions to help me enhance my well-being. Some decisions seemed natural, like eating better, while others seemed innocuous, at the time, but altered my life completely.
For example, one decision involved planning a trip to NYC to see a Broadway play and in a convoluted way that got me back into my yoga practice. Few people know the whole story as it’s hard to explain but once back in a consistent yoga practice everything changed for me as I learned to relax and take time to be in the present. The decisions following evolved, my long-term depression lifted and healthier options revealed themselves. It was a domino effect of self-care and it brought me to where I am today: Content, healthy and able to help others.
And although I miss my dog terribly, he lives forever in my heart and I am eternally grateful for those wonderful walks with my best friend. I continue to practice yoga, giving and receiving massage is extremely therapeutic for me, and now taking walks by myself has kept me from sinking into an abyss of sadness.
Life has its ups and downs, and we all use a variety of techniques to work through them. For me, walks with my dog led to me having a clearer mind to make healthy choices, these decisions led me to yoga, and yoga led me to Thai Yoga Massage and then ultimately Massage Therapy, a calling.
Slow down, take a walk, meditate, cuddle with your four-legged friend or book a massage. One decision to take care of you and your well-being can have a lifetime of benefits.
Photo by Melissa Kelly