Above is a picture of one of my most favorite places: The Sweetwater Reservoir. I like to go there and feed the ducks and geese (the healthy feed specifically sold in their bait shop) and sit there and think on a nearby bench. Sometimes it’s in the quiet stillness that allows for the deepest thinking and reflection.
It’s always important to make time for yourself. And finding a quiet place to think is one of the best ways to do that. It can be very much anywhere, even someplace in your own house (a special room just for you). It helps to recharge every once in awhile.
Self care is any intentional act that a person does to maintain good physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s something that needs to be done in order to take care of YOURSELF. Good self care is often a challenge for many people, especially for those who have ever been through traumatic experiences, such as the loss of a loved one. Because we are so busy in our grief that we forget take care of ourselves which can be extremely detrimental to your health. Your self care needs might be different then mine, as every person is different, but I think that it is important that everyone take a little bit of time out of their day, each and every single day, to do something just for themselves. Here are a few important things that people often overlook that might be helpful:
- Your diet. Food is often something that people overlook. We are often so busy that we do not have to eat to eat regularly, or we often substitute fast food for regular meals instead. It might not be reasonable to expect everyone to always eat 3 square meals a day plus snacks, but you should always make sure that you are getting adequate nutrition. Eat something! Even if it is just a small amount, try to at least eat a small amount of food for each of your meals.
- Exercise. The Center for Disease Control recommends that people get at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Now, I know that this might be hard. Perhaps you took your dog out for a walk every single morning and that’s how you got your exercise, and now your beloved animal companion is gone and you don’t feel much like getting out of the house anymore and that’s understandable! But exercise is a great thing because it gives you something to focus on and also, exercise has been known to release endorphins throughout a person’s body (ever had that feeling of euphoria after a hard workout even though you’ve just worked your butt off? That’s your endorphins talking!). Exercise can help combat depression, sadness, and prevent chronic health problems. There are plenty of different things people can do for exercise, and you don’t always have to do it alone either which is great. And, if you do happen to have a new animal companion, you can use it to create new memories with them.
- Get enough sleep. I think that when my Scarlett passed it was harder for me to get any sleep because I was having a hard time getting over the loss, especially right after it happened. Of course, I’m a natural night owl anyway, but even I know that it is important for people to get enough sleep in order to be able function properly. Not everyone is the same, of course, but a reasonable guideline is that a person may need about 7-10 hours of sleep per night in order to keep in good health (for kids it’s a bit more than that). So make sure that you are getting enough sleep at night.
- Seek professional help if you need to. When you are grieving over the loss of a loved one (Either human or animal), can be overwhelming, so sometimes it’s best to seek the help of a licensed professional. I learned a long time ago that often seeking outside help is extremely beneficial because it allows you to have someone to speak to without that person already having any sort of pre-conceived bias.
- Writing. One of the things that I did during the days and weeks immediately following my Scarlett’s passing was I wrote her letters. Now, I know it might seem a little weird that I was writing letters to my dog, but it did help. It helped me get my feelings out, and it made the grieving a little easier. Another idea is to keep a journal with all of your thoughts and feelings. A huge part of the reason why I wrote The Tail of Scarlett was because I was still trying to figure out how to process my feelings and it gave me something to concentrate on, keeping me from dwelling too much on the negative.
- Meditation and reflection. Doing some meditation exercises can help your body and mind relax, which can be very beneficial to your self-care. Also, finding a nice quiet place where you can just be alone with your thoughts for awhile and give yourself time to reflect can also help you gather your thoughts and give you a chance to just breathe. A few weeks ago I went to one of my favorite places and did nothing but sit by the water, feeding the local ducks and geese that like to hang out there, and just spend a quiet afternoon sitting on a bench and looking out over the water. It can be a very calming thing to do.
- Surround yourself with good people. Make spending time with family and friends a priority. Spend time with those that you know are going to be supportive, and if you need to, join a support group (there are plenty of support groups out there for people who have experienced the loss of a beloved pet or human loved one). Be wary of those that only call you when they need something, make you feel even more depressed when you leave them then you were when you first saw them, or belittle your experience, or don’t have time to listen to you. Set limits!
And above all, make sure you remember to make yourself a priority. Make sure that your self-care comes first and not just something that happens by accident. And remember…
Always keep your tail waggin’.
I ran across this picture and quote while trying to figure out what this weeks post was going to be about and somehow it just seemed like it just fit perfectly. We all know that our animal companions are intelligent, but I also that there probably has not been a time where we have all looked at them at them at least once and wondered, “what are you thinking?”
Well, If my gut feelings about whatever Scarlett was thinking was correct it was exactly this. I would like to think that she loved me as much as I loved her. And what of my few readers out there? Does anyone reading things ever remember a time where their pet has ever given them a look that they might consider similar to this? It is almost as if they are thinking, “silly humans. They have no idea, do they?” I used to imagine (and sometimes I still do) how funny it would be if really was the way it was in the movie, Cats And Dogs where there is a whole secret underground network where our animal friends are really secret agents of some kind and they go on missions that no human could ever know about. If that’s true then I want to go and hang out with all of them and see if I could get anyone of them to talk to me. I’m pretty sure I would be able to write some books then! Oh the stories I am sure they could tell. I’m sure Scarlett would have had plenty of them. But what about you, dear Reader? What stories do you think your animal friend could tell you? Please feel free to leave them in the comment section! I want to hear all about everyone’s animal companions, whether it be dog, cat, rabbit, bird, or even your favorite pet rat.
And speaking of stories….as mentioned in my previous blog post, I’m hosting a giveaway on Goodreads! From now until May 10th, you may enter to win a signed copy of The Tail of Scarlett! One winner will be chosen from all of those that enter so please, enter the giveaway and spread the word! You can reach the giveaway by clicking here, or heading over to Goodreads.com, clicking on Browse, and then clicking on Giveaways and browsing the categories.
And remember…always keep your tail waggin!
I’m sorry that this post is a day late, but I have been working on something special. Beginning on April 10th, I will be hosting a giveaway on Goodreads! One lucky winner will get a signed copy of The Tail of Scarlett! I have tried to add a widget to the blog for people interested in entering. The contest runs from April 10 to May 10th!