It’s beginning to look a lot like…. the end of 2020, FINALLY!
It’s all been a bit strange hasn’t it?! I found myself recently reflecting on all the plans I had in January this year which all went very pear shaped! This year has been a challenge for everyone. And while the collective struggle has meant that we know we aren’t alone in finding things difficult, I have probably felt the most alone with my thoughts and feelings this year than any other. The lack of human contact has really taken its toll at times, and I have come to realise how much I value those little throw away chats you have on a day to day. They lift your mood, give you new perspective, and allow you to off load little niggles or worries. Our lives have been turned upside down this year. Like most of you, I’ve lost count of how many times plans have changed, and sometimes I’ve struggled to keep up or feel in control of what’s going on.
In the spring and summer when everything was beginning to unravel, I committed myself to getting outside every day, and it was pretty easy! The days were longer, the weather was lovely and warm and for the majority of time very dry, so taking a walk outside was a pleasure. It allowed me to decompress, stomp out my woes and became something I would really look forward to. But that all becomes a lot harder as the days draw in doesn’t it? I said on Instagram the other day that I feel like we have had heavy rain for about 800 days and suddenly those balmy summer evening walks feel like a distant memory.
But. I Emma Rees, lover of blankets, tea, naps and Netflix, am here to tell you why it’s really important now more than ever, to put down the remote, grab the dog lead and get out for a nice long, wet, muddy, walk with the dog.
I hate the rain. Yes, I know, I’m a Dog Sitter whose job requires a lot of outdoor work and I HATE the rain. I get rain anxiety when I have a long day of walks and its tipping it down outside, the thought of getting wet and cold makes me want to hide under the duvet, but like a lot of stuff in life, a day out in the rain walking dogs always does me, and my mind the world of good.
Going out on a dog walk at anytime of the year has a whole range of benefits (proven by science and EVERYTHING!) that include:
1. Being more active
Research has indicated that people who walk their dogs are more likely to walk about half an hour more than people who don’t have dogs. And if you’re a dog walker, research suggests that you’re more likely to be physically active in general than those who don’t own dogs.
2. Relax and de stress
Talk to any dog lover and I promise you’ll hear them talk about dog walking relieving stress and having a positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing, and they aren’t wrong! Some evidence has suggested that being around a dog may lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Walking is also known to be a therapeutic form of exercise, so it makes sense that having a dog by your side makes you feel more positive and relaxed.
3. Mutual motivation
I’m a very lazy person, and if it’s cold and dark outside I won’t be going out without a good reason! Knowing that a pupper needs me to get out and go for walkies is the best motivation when it’s hailing outside. Think of it a bit like going for a run or booking an exercise class with your friends. You’re far more likely to get out if you know someone’s depending on you to be there!
4. Shared happiness
Have you ever watched the sheer joy in your dogs eyes while they do zoomies up and down a field/beach/park and felt all warm and happy inside? That’s because when your dog has fun, you do to. It makes you feel good, whatever the weather.
5. Social connection
Being sociable is good for your wellbeing. Being out and about with dogs you tend to naturally strike up conversations with other dog walkers about the best places to let the furries roam free, or a shared love of breeds. It allows you in these difficult times to have some kind of human connection again, which can make you feel less isolated and lift your mood.
Walking, especially in nature, gives you a chance to be in the present and notice the scenery and wildlife around you, it’s the perfect antidote to endless news stories and the social media rumour mill that has consumed this year.
Need I saw anymore?! Dog walking is AMAZING! And to cure the pandemic autumn/winter blues (who knew that would ever be a thing?!) it’s so important to do your best to get outside, whatever the weather. I Promise, the cuppa after a big wet, muddy walk makes everything worthwhile! If you don’t have a dog, getting out and about is still a really beneficial thing for your mental health. If you find it hard to peel yourself off your sofa, why not plan a time to go for a walk with the people in your household? You might even see some puppers doing zoomies along the way or strike up a conversation with someone with an adorable doggo, a guaranteed mood booster! Walking is an amazing medicine.
Stay safe friends, hopefully we’ll see you out walking very soon!