I've become one of those people who talks about their dog as others talk about their kids. You know that person whose Instagram is covered in dog photos oohing and ahhing at 'how cute she is' cuddled up on the couch or rolling around outside in the grass. I love my dog - she's a boxer named Arya (yup, named from Game of Thrones). She may be a dog, but she thinks she's a human, as she finds herself in cozy spots on the couch using the pillows.
Luckily, there's a lot we can learn from this cuddly creature about our health. Here's 6 ways we can practice health advice from our dogs.
1. Rest. Relax. Restore.
She is a pro at restorative yoga. With pillows and blankets as her bolsters, she gets her comfort in with resting inside and outside and napping throughout the day.
When I was in Spain, I made sure to do as the locals do and take an afternoon siesta for ~20-30 minutes. I bet you could find some time - even 10 minutes - to take a break in the afternoon and rest. A short power nap may be a better option than another cup of coffee when you hit that afternoon energy low.
2. Cuddle More.
Get your cuddling on. Seriously, cuddling is not only one of the best feel-good activities out there, but it's great for your health. Touch and cuddling can help reduce stress hormone levels and increase oxytocin (the love hormone).
Grab yourself a dog - or a person - and snuggle up.
3. Move More.
Arya doesn't spend her days in the gym working out, only to sit around the rest of the day. While she does a lot of lying around during the day, she's up and moving at least every half-hour playing with toys or sprinting around the backyard.
Seeing her do wild sprints around the backyard is so entertaining, and when she collapses and rolls around on her back on the grass, she embodies pure joy. It reminds me of the relationship I want to build with my body and movement - to move with joy and because it feels good.
So get outside, take a walk with yourself or a dog.
Run around. Sprint. Play. Move with joy.
4. Play with friends.
Arya gets super excited when her BFF Luna comes over to have a playdate in the backyard. They can spend hours out there chasing each other around and adore going hiking together.
Community is so important to your health, especially to reduce stress hormones again. There's something so therapeutic about having a girls night in (or out dancing) to connect, laugh, and dance around to fun music.
5. Try new foods.
While I can't say my dog is a mindful eater - she scarfs down her bowl of food in about a minute - she is open to trying new foods. Whatever we drop on the floor, she's in licking it up in seconds. If we don't drop something, you betcha she's finding old scraps of dust to try.
She is a fan of her veggies though and loves sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and will try anything - even a small leaf of kale or a baby carrot. While she'll eat veggies, she has a super sense when it comes to cheese and peanut butter and never deprives herself of those goodies, when we give them to her.
6. Love. Love. Love.
Lastly, of course, she is the biggest love bug ever. When I come home, she gets so excited, as if she hasn't seen me in days. Even if I was only gone for 5 minutes. It's one of the best parts of my day because she loves without any expectations (well, maybe in exchange for some good belly rubs).
Besides, having a dog is great for your heart health, as endorsed by the American Heart Association.
Yes, I'm obsessed with my dog and for good reason. So much love and good health for both of us.
“Dogs are the magicians of the universe.” -Clarissa Pinkola Estes
PS: If you want to see even more dog photos, check out my Instagram.