Everyone knows the phrase “man’s best friend” but, instead let’s highlight the amazing relationship a woman can have with her furry-friend.
During a visit to San Diego to see my cousin I accidentally fell in love with the city. Once I arrived back home I decided it was time for a change of scenery and a new adventure. I gave myself one year to save and prepare.
Six months before my move I realized I wanted to adopt a dog. As I thought about the emotional hurdles I may face moving out of my house for the first time and moving five hundred miles away from home I knew having a dog would ease my anxiety. I knew from previous experience that I would experience feelings of depression leaving my family behind and anxiety from being on my own.
I went to my local dog shelter and fell in love with a beautiful, blonde Pit Bull Terrier; I took her home with me and named her Kona. There are few moments in life where you feel an instant connection and love for a living being, that is what I felt for Kona.
Moving day had arrived, the last of the boxes made it into the truck, my little cooler of snacks were packed in my car and Kona and I move across the threshold of my family home taking our first steps forward to our new adventure. Though I felt anxious for the new challenges ahead I felt at ease knowing Kona would be with me every step of the way.
After about a month of constant fun reality sank in: I was alone in a new city five hundred miles away from home, missing my parents and siblings regretting my decision. I felt like I had just made a huge mistake and was having buyer’s remorse. I started to ask myself, “Why did I leave my siblings behind? Why did I prolong finishing school? Why did I not go straight to CSU East bay to finish my bachelor’s degree? I never wanted to move away from home, how did I convince myself this was a good idea?” Although I was not truly alone I had roommates, I felt emotionally ALONE.
That’s when my dog, my best friend Kona helped me with my anxiety.
Whatever form your anxiety comes in, here are 5 ways dogs can help YOU ease it:
Your dog will always be ready and more than willing to snuggle.
Physical contact is proven to ease one’s anxiety, nobody ever said it had to be another human’s
touch. According to Keith Humprey’s, a professor at Stanford, “Holding and stroking a pet is calming for many people, even those without anxiety problems.” Ending my day in my bed snuggling Kona was the perfect way to decrease any anxiety for the next day.
Your dog will push you to stay active therefore lowering anxiety.
I knew that Kona needed to exercise and socialize with other dogs, so daily activities were necessary in our schedule. Taking her for a run, going to dog beaches or going paddle boarding together on the beautiful San Diego Bay kept me physically healthy. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states, “Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout.” So staying active with your dog even if it is just a short walk will improve your physical and mental health.
Your dog will be a diversion to your anxiety.
When you suffer from anxiety sometimes the smallest problem can become overwhelming quite quickly and you feel like the world is crumbling. A good way to get your mind off your anxiety is by taking care of your dog: feedings, walks, baths, training, etc. Knowing I was responsible for Kona gave me a sense of purpose and order.
You will never be alone.
As people we have several components to our lives, for dogs their owner is everything to them. When having anxiety being alone can be scary if you have a dog you will never have to worry, they will always be home with you. After dealing with daily stress and anxiety, I knew Kona would always be there when I got home and that brought me relief.
Your dog will help you become more social or remain anxiety-free during social situations.
Having a dog will allow you to be more open to meeting new people. Dogs are easy conversation starters, their cuteness and huggability attracts people to them. If you are feeling nervous right now about having too much attention on yourself, do not worry! Most of the attention will stay on your pup. I could not pass a group of people without them complimenting Kona.