As I write this, many of us are either in quarantine or stay-at-home orders while the world battles COVID-19. I’ve been working from home for a week and a half, and although I’m an introvert, I’m starting to feel a bit cooped up and lonely. Luckily, I have two dogs to keep me company.
Although dogs are extremely social animals, they have several good habits that we humans can replicate to help us get through quarantines and social distancing.
Here are just a few.
Stretch Every Morning
Have you ever noticed that the first thing that a dog does every morning is stretch? It’s a good practice for us humans as well; stretching increases blood circulation, reduces muscle tension and increases energy levels, among other things. Be like Fido and devote a few minutes each day to stretching or yoga.
Exercise is also very important for both physical and mental health. Dogs love playing outside. This is an activity that you can share together…maybe it’s about time that your dog gets double the walks. Ahem?
Dogs love to keep themselves clean. While you may be tempted to skip washing your hair or body for a day or two, it’s very beneficial to keep yourself groomed. Smelling good and looking your best will help you keep your spirits up and also give you sense of normalcy. I mean, could you imagine your dog going an entire day without grooming herself? Unheard of! Plus, nothing feels better than a hot shower in the morning. Breathe in the steam to help yourself relax.
OK, so dogs might not practice mindfulness (well, not exactly), but they come pretty close. Mindfulness is about living in the moment, experiencing the world and focusing on the sounds, smells and sights around you. Dogs do this all the time. I love watching my dog Daisy sit outside on a sunny spring day. Her ears cock to the side for each bird chirp, she enjoys the warmth of the sun’s rays and sometimes she gently sniffs the air. She’s most definitely living in the moment and appreciating the small. Try this by sitting outside and focusing on one object. Don’t let your mind wander to anything else — just appreciate that object; its color, the way it sways in the breeze. Now listen to all the sounds happening around you. Take in any smells. The feeling of the wind on your face. You get the picture.
Get Social (From a Distance)
We all know that dogs are super social and they can continue being social during the coronavirus outbreak because they can’t get the virus. Great news! So how can humans continue to be social when we’re supposed to be social distancing? For starters, when you’re walking your dog, there may be opportunities to say hello, wave at or smile at other people who are walking their dogs. Just make sure to keep 6 feet of distance between you. You may even be able to strike up a conversation.
This is also a great time to use technology to stay connected with those most important to you — try calling or Face-timing a friend to lift your spirits.