The Paws Button

I wasn’t sure what to write about this week until the weather hit on Thursday. Although my classes and work weren’t technically canceled, I woke up to this face in the morning:

…and thought I should probably call in a snow day.

 

Like most of us, I live my life on fast-forward. “Slowing down” looks like normal speed and the “pause” button almost never gets used. This isn’t all bad—I am very grateful to have so many wonderful opportunities in my life that give me purpose and a way to exercise my passions. But I am also tired most of the time, stretching myself too thin, and giving less than my best to most of what I do; this hurts.

So when I woke up to Jude’s silent protest, I declared my own Snow Day. I was so excited to spend the day with my dawgs that I couldn’t even fall back asleep! I started moving around—cleaning this, working on that. The kids laid in a pile on the couch next to me, dozing in and out of consciousness as I’m sure they probably spend most of their days. Finally, as I went to grab something else from my backpack and transition into the next to-do list item, Miss Ruby gives me her classic hound dawg eyes, stands, and plops her body onto mine.

Her dead weight completely immobilized me and she clearly had no intention of letting me go anywhere. I couldn’t help but laugh and realize that she was actually looking out for me. Message received, sweet Ruby: Press Pause.

The next few hours were glorious. I sat back and watched my dawgs closely, grateful for the gifted free time to spend with them. I was most fascinated by how much time they put into caring for themselves on a daily basis. They actively sought out only the most comfortable of snuggling locations, did lots of yoga stretching, and groomed their own self or each other sporadically throughout the day. I wish I was that high on my own list of priorities, I thought. The last time I’d showered was well, I couldn’t remember. I watched them all morning and eventually learned that a dawg’s love of left is what overflows into its surroundings.

It’s really quite simple: Love of self translates into a love for others. I don’t mean selfish or narcissistic self-obsession, but a genuine appreciation and celebration of your own existence. Research proves that practicing this in your own life regularly will result in better physical and mental health, improved relationships, and overall greater happiness. Self-esteem functions as an emotional immune system. Just take a look at your furkid’s example and decide for yourself what kind of person you want to be.

We didn’t pause for the whole day; my never-ending to-do list eventually got the best of my guilt and I couldn’t put it off any longer. But instead of jumping right back in, I picked what sounded nice and only worked on tasks that were enjoyable. I called people who I have not caught up with in a while and organized what is important to me. Just that small act of kindness towards myself was such a wonderful statement and helped me to feel so much better.

When was the last time you said “I love you” to yourself?

Self-care is a lot easier than you might think. It doesn’t require grandiose gestures, significant time, or a lot of money. Simply take a personal inventory on your own distress signals daily. Are you upset about something? Ignoring your personal hygiene or sleep requirements? Take preventative steps as much as possible, and ask for help if you need it. For many of us introverts, recharging happens alone. Try not to isolate yourself—engage in human connection. Avoid negative coping strategies and most importantly, respect your own limitations and manage your personal lifeload.

Buy yourself presents or treat yourself to a special dinner. Spend an extra ten minutes in the shower or in bed snuggling with your pups. Dawgs have the recipe for life perfected. Extend yourself the same kindness and compassion you do for others and see how beautifully it transforms your life.

–smd

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