Pet Therapy

Lin has been asking people what topics they would like me to address when there is a lull in the action and I have no idea what to say. The big winner seems to be coping strategies. People want to know how to cope with the stress of AMD.

Remember, this is not an advice column. It is not therapy. I can give you some idea of what I am doing to cope because, after all, this is my journey and journal. Maybe something I am doing will be helpful for you, too.

Right now the beastie baby is waiting to go for her walk. She does not know it but she is a great benefit to me. The American Heart Association and other groups have proven being with animals is a great way to deal with isolation and depression. People who have animals have less of the bad neurotransmitters in their bodies and more of the feel good ones than the people who do not have animals. Pet owners live longer and go to the doctor less than non-pet owners.

I am a dog freak, totally and completely, so I am happy to tell you my side won! Yippee! What? Oh, the dogs versus cats debate. Dogs do more for our well-being than cats. But then what would you expect from an animal that threw its lot in with man 30,000 years ago? Cats are late comers with domestication occurring about 9,000 years ago.

But enough of the fun facts. Dogs get you into some good life habits. The puppy girl gets walked every day short of a typhoon or three feet of snow. And guess who walks her. Her Mommy!

We walk out in fields and wooded areas. Outside! Fantastic for me because – other than my being raised a country girl and simply liking it out there – being in nature is good for me. In addition to the vitamin D I get from sunlight and the clean air I get to breath, nature has some other fantastic benefits. Nature can improve attention and cognitive functioning. Green spaces promote healing. People in hospitals with gardens get better faster. Added to that are the stress and depression relief benefits that being in nature provides for us.

Mom Nature does take care of us kids. I like to visit Mom frequently.

So, those are a few things I do regularly to maintain my health, both physical and mental. They help me cope. Perfect remedies for everything that ails me? Lord, no. To borrow from DBT wisdom again, a little improvement is better than no improvement at all. It is black and white thinking to feel something has to work 100℅ to have value.

I use the strategies I can even if they help just a bit. Hopefully putting them all together will get me nearer to the goal.

Next: MY FAMILY OF CHOICE

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