Your Pet Loves You – More Than You Know!

For many of us, there is a furry-footed loved one that we call family. Or perhaps it is a feathered friend or fish that we love. We know that our heart warms at the thought of them and that we find ourselves comforted and soothed in their presence. In fact, we might find ourselves marveling at the ways that they know just how to brighten our day, especially when we are stressed.

Research suggests that many animals have an innate knack for connecting with others, often making them impeccable pets. Not only this, but many of these animals go on to become adept healers through their innate traits. Pets who provide a unique comfort for those they live with are referred to as Emotional Support Animals, or ESA’s.

Because of this unique impact that many animals offer to us, research has gone on to explore the ways that pets can enhance the lives of those living with PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. Pets who serve as ESA’s differ from service animals in that they are not trained to assist the struggles in any way, yet their presence and interactions do offer assistance that can facilitate healing and recovery for their human companions. In my Goodtherapy.org article on this process, I explain some of the benefits that ESA’s can offer for those living with PTSD. Click HERE for details:

With this notable impact, it is no wonder that so many of us feel better at the mere thought of spending time with our interspecies loved ones… in fact, many people report that they miss their pets as much or more than other family members! One of the reasons for this is that their pet offers them support and comfort for the challenges that they are facing with anxiety, depression, or the aftermath of a trauma.

If you find yourself benefiting from the ways that your pet enhances and contributes to your emotional well-being, you might be wondering how to go about registering your pet as an Emotional Support Animal. I have recently created a package to facilitate this so that more people can go on to experience the healing benefits of living with a beloved pet! For details, visit HERE to see how you can get started.

In what ways do you love to spend time with your pet?? Share with us in our social media pages to connect with other pet lovers who are finding their lives that much more meaningful with their furry-footed, feathered, and aquatic loved ones present!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

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Boost Your Brain with ‘Vitamin Sea’ This Summer

You might be the one in your circle who can never get enough beach time in the summer. Or maybe you spend your breaks listening to ocean sounds or bookmarking your favorite beach getaways. While you may not have put much thought into the how and why of your beach daydreams and memories, you know that they always brightened you up.

Recently, I teamed up with NBC News to get a better sense of how the beach affects our body and mind. It turns out that, not only do we anticipate relaxation when we head to the beach, but that we also respond to the different sensory experiences while we are at the beach. Our physiology shifts in response to the sights, sounds, and sensations we encounter at the beach. In fact, these responses heighten the relaxation experience we expect.

These effects extend as far as shifting the frequency of our brain waves to the point of mild meditative states, which have their own valuable benefits as well. Our body also enters into a parasympathetic response which helps to bolster our resilience to the daily stresses and fight-flight-freeze responses we are constantly bombarded by in our routine.

A beach excursion offers a great opportunity for building on the Mindfulness practices you may be cultivating. With so many ways to focus on our sensory experiences such as sight, touch, scent, and hearing while already in a more relaxed and positive state, we can give ourselves an opportunity to more readily connect more deeply with ourselves through enhancing the body-mind connection.

Not only that, but we have a ton of “people watching” opportunities at the beach during a time where most people are also in a greater state of relaxation and bliss than in our regular routines. This may be linked with why brain areas connected to empathy, memory, and reasoning get a boost. If you’re not feeling up for taking notice of the people around you, you can still enjoy the animals at the beach for this same benefit too!

As quickly as the summer has been flying by, you still have time to go out and get yourself some much needed ‘Vitamin Sea!’ Don’t forget to let me know where you gave yourself the permission to give your brain and your body a boost! Read more HERE for full details on how to reap the most benefits of ‘Vitamin Sea!’

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How Would You Save Your Life?

Have you thought about what your Iife depends on? Or have you thought about the things that you do on a day to day basis that keep you going and preserve your safety? How about any situations you might have been in where you have thwarted danger?

If you’re asking yourself these questions and reflecting on the answers, you might have noticed that you have a set of default and automatic things that you say to yourself. You might also have a pattern of criticizing yourself or thinking that you can’t handle what comes next or that you’re just not good enough to get through. You might find it hard to focus or feel like you’re being judged.

It can be overwhelming and we might find ourselves shutting down even further.

There is a more effective way for us to find clarity so that we can maneuver difficult situations in a way that’s helpful to us. With the confidence and clarity to navigate terrifying situations, we give ourselves permission to show up and shine in our lives!

I share openly in my Mindfulness groups that I believe Mindfulness can change the world. Now I can say very frankly that Mindfulness can save our lives. I’d like to share an example of how this played out for me recently.

Of course, Mindfulness has physiological benefits that not only extend our lives but that also improve the quality of our lives. Yet, there is a more immediate impact that refers to a way that use of a variety of Mindfulness skills can help us escape terrifying and even, in the case of my example, potentially life-threatening situations in that moment it’s happening.

Recently, I attended a training in Fort Lauderdale. As a lover of the water, I was happily practicing Mindfulness skills while enjoying my time in the beautiful, calm, and warm waters along with several other trainees on the evening of the first day.

We noticed the water begin to move very differently along with a very distinct shape appear next to me just a few feet away. The thoughts running through my mind were that there is no way it could be possible for a shark to to be so close to me in water that is less than four or five feet deep.

Yet, my Mindful observation clearly depicted the one, along with the shift in the movement of the water.

I quickly removed my awareness from the judgments in my thoughts and looked to observe again. It was unmistakable – both the shark fin and body as well as the flow of the water with such a buoyant creature so close by.

In the next second, I observed where the water was easier to move through. Now drawing upon Mindful movement skills, I quickly and deliberately led the group of us laterally away from the shark before we began to Mindfully wade our way back to the shore.

In doing so, we struggled a bit and one of the other trainees began falling. Our Mindful focus helped us to keep taking steps forward while the LovingKindness mindset of Mindfulness allowed me to reach out to help steady the falling member.

When we finally reached the shore safely, we started to feel the full scope of what a potentially terrible situation we had just escaped. Rather than panicking, we reached for our Mindfulness of feelings skills and began notifying other beachgoers calmly.

Several commented that our calm approach helped ward off their panic and help others take responsive and effective actions. We also notified the property staff so additional safeguards could be taken.

Once all the appropriate actions had been taken, I spent a bit of time reflecting on what had happened:

+I realized that I had made use of the Wise Mind, where an integration of both Reasonable and Emotional Mind informed my interpretation of the situation and the actions we took

+I knew that a reaction embedded in the Emotional Mind, while understandable could have put me in greater jeopardy

+I also knew that everyone’s safety was of paramount importance, a mindset that has been nurtured with the compassionate Mindfulness practices of nonjudgment and LovingKindness.

+I also remembered both my initial wave of shock and panic along with the exhaustion in my legs as we were working our way back to shore and knew that my practices of Mindfully noticing my experience without judgment and coming back to the present helped me, rather than getting stuck in them and struggling more, to instead choose with awareness a set of actions and responses that would best serve me in this moment.

THIS is the essential benefit of Mindfulness of our lives.

Luckily, I was not harmed – nor was anyone else – and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for the reminder of the value of Mindfulness in my life.

Each of the skills I drew upon are ones I teach and practice in my Mindfulness Matters group. I even shared this story in our final session of the most recent round of the group and am looking forward to sharing it in the upcoming cycle of the group beginning in just a few weeks. Of course, my hope is that no one is in such a jarring situation but that they have the skills to take the kinds of actions that will best serve their lives no matter what kind of shocking, scary, or upsetting situation they are in.

If you are curious about what skills you can learn to help you keep moving toward what you want to celebrate in your life, hit reply and let me know! Or click on the button below to learn more about it.

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Creature Comfort In Trauma Recovery

Are you a self-proclaimed animal lover? Have you found comfort in the joy and love you share with your pets? You are in great company! It is one of the reasons animal-assisted therapies have had such great results!

Few things comfort us the way animals do. Whether it is from pets we share our lives with or the latest YouTube kitten video, animals have a natural way of bringing us peacefulness and joy much more readily. Well, therapy is no different!

A natural tendency for humans and pets to form a relationship with one another often contributes to quick connections and empathy between a client and therapy animal. Certain animals such as dogs are better suited for interactions with humans because they can more easily feel a deep sense of social connectedness beyond different species. Based on this, we can have meaningful and long lasting attachments with them – and them to us. This advanced social acuity enables them to not only be companionate but to also provide us with social support. Their loving connection allows us to explore things that were difficult for us, whether it’s tough thoughts and emotions or new coping skills we haven’t quite gotten the hang of yet.

Animal-based therapy approaches can help better handle things such as isolation, anxiety, sense of security/safety, depression, and mistrust. Most importantly, people going through a hard time can feel reconnected with themselves and the world through the cute cuddles, love, and fun of interacting with therapy animals. Animals can help provide relief and building of more adaptive coping strategies.

Either way, we benefit from their presence in therapy in a number of ways that extends beyond the session.

In what way has your furry footed loved one enhanced your life? Share with us in our Facebook and Twitter communities!

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