Growing up in Southern California, we knew that pets were prophetic. They could sense an earthquake coming far sooner than we could. They would brace, or whine, or run into the room of the most vulnerable in the house to guard them, to be present when the rumbling began.
Seismologists contend that the movements of an unstable fault-line, which causes earthquakes, are detectable in advance of the seismic event, explaining that our four-footed friends are simply hearing, feeling or smelling the very beginning of the earthquake, but I’m not so sure.
They Take Care Of Us
Stories abound of our beloved four-footed friends detecting more than just earthquakes, like this story of Max, who diagnosed his owner’s cancer months before scans could detect it. They know when you set out for home, well before your car hits the driveway, and theses days, they know we’re feeling scared, lost and broken.
Our pets take care of us, just as much as we take care of them.
Take It From Our Furry Friends
Here are five tips we’d be wise to learn from our pet’s natural self-soothing behaviors.
1. They Know The Value of Cuddling
Simple touch has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and stimulate the release of oxytocin, and our pets know this. Even animals who will fight bitterly over food or a mate will still cuddle up for a dose of lovin’. Living creatures need touch, and it doesn’t need to be sexual. Cuddling is medicinal, whether with a pet, a family member or roommate.
Pandemics are traumatic, and its time we admit it. Even if you and your loved ones have avoided hospitalization, science has shown that the day-in-day-out stress levels we’re now experiencing can be as damaging to our psyches as acute trauma. Our furry friends know that the effects of trauma are both physiological and psychological. When animals experience trauma, many shake in the moments that follow, to discharge excess tension. In humans, if we let ourselves be, we may shiver or cry. But if not, to stay healthy, we need to find other ways. Exercise, sex, and watching “laugh out loud” comedies or “tear-jerkers” are great alternatives.
Watch your pets. They medicinally take in sun every day, going to great lengths to seek out a beam that streams into your home, even when they can’t get outdoors. And, they’re right. The ultraviolet rays of the sun have been shown to kill germs and it is a human’s best source of immune-boosting vitamin D. So, go soak up some rays everyday. Best is to get outside and breath fresh air. But, if that’s not possible right now, then be like your pooch find a spot where the beams stream in. Let them fall on your face, with eyes closed, to feel energized. Go, take in some sun.
4. They Know that Packs Rise and Fall Together
Animals travel in packs to increase rates of survival, and we humans are no different. Though we talk a lot these days about herd immunity and have taken social distance as not to overwhelm our medical systems, when it comes to taking care of our pack, we’re failing. That humanity has lost more than 750,000 lives thus far to COVID-19 is a tragedy, but that number will be dwarfed by the rippling mental health impacts of the pandemic. So, if you’re having a good day, use some of that energy to pick up the phone and call a member of your pack. We’ll only survive if we take care of one another.
5. They Know that This Too Shall Pass
Animals live in the moment. Period. Dangle a treat in front of your pet and watch how they leap from their lazy state of mind into a reality that is full of yum! In order to survive our new reality, we need to work on our present-mindedness. When we start tracking our mental habits, most of us notice that we spend the large majority of our time replaying past unpleasantries or anticipating them. We need to take a page from our pets and let each moment be, just as it is, some of them hard, but many pretty nice. When things get tough, we can recall “This too shall pass.”
So, if you need a little bit of inspiration today, go find your furry friend and do what she does. She knows that a little bit of sunshine, breath and rest can go a long way to making things feel better.