I’ve written about animals before. (See the Recent Posts list on the right side of this page: “The Therapy of Pets”- January 17, 2014.) Animals are the ultimate stress reducers. Last weekend, I went on a day trip to visit an unusual, animal rescue compound near Solvang, California. They had a variety of animals including miniature donkeys; I never knew such a creature existed. The full-grown mini-donkeys came up to my waist. Here I am with Princess, a Vietnamese Potbellied Pig.
While I was scratching Princess’ belly, currycombing a donkey, or petting a tortoise, I forgot about all my commitments, obligations, must-dos, and everything else in my life that stresses me out.
Many animals are so calm, placid, easy-going, and relaxed. (Those terms may all mean the same, but I couldn’t stop with the descriptors.) When hanging around them, those qualities spill over onto you. That’s why hospitals and other institutions often bring in animals to interact with the occupants; it’s therapeutic. It is so much better, cheaper and has fewer negative consequences than many of the methods people use to reduce stress such as alcohol, prescription medications, illegal drugs, smoking, and excessive caffeinated drinks..
Because of the danger to our lives, health and happiness, we must reduce the stress that life hands each of us. One thing I use is exercise. When I’m working on the exercise machines at my gym, I’m concentrating on the workout and not on my stressors. Animals have that same effect on me. Since I don’t have an at-home pet in my life right now, I’m always going up to people walking their dogs to get my “animal hit” for the day. I ask the owner first if I can pet their dog. Afterward, I always thank the dog and the owner for sharing.
Try an “animal hit” whether it be your neighbor’s dog, cat or bird, or a more exotic variety such as Princess. Let their calmness wash over you and accompany you throughout the day. Somehow, it puts in perspective all of the little concerns we think are so important and that we allow to drain so much of our energy.
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