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  • Bri

On Raising a Puppy and Nurturing Emotional Health

Best. Christmas. Ever.

Our newest family member is full of spunk, loves to cuddle, and is the smartest 3 month old I know. Meet Lexi. She (sometimes) comes when called, can sit, lay down, crawl, shake a paw, spin, dance, give hugs, and even goes potty in her sandbox. I sure am a proud mama and I show her picture to everyone I meet.

January is a rough month for a lot of people as it is post-Christmas-rush and a season where we don't get much sunlight. It's important to be aware of your emotional health while the physiological effects take hold of not just your overall physical energy, but brain health as well. To help with the winter blues by sparking a chuckle or two and providing some insight into why you might be self-sabotaging your mental or physical health, read away.

Number one. Accidents will happen.

Probably on every square inch of the floor. Good luck if you have super-squishy-fashionable-and-hyper-absorbant carpet. Patience is the key. It's important not to provide (or give yourself) correction when you are emotionally distraught, exhausted or just plain frustrated with yet ANOTHER "poopy" to clean up. Puppy (and self) will take correction best if you are able to direct your corrective action with confidence and consistency. Mishaps are sign of growth; that is, if you are willing to accept or give well-meaning advice.

Number two. If you'd be upset if it was destroyed, don't buy it.

Puppy has reminded me of the disposability of many of my dear belongings. I now think twice before purchasing a new home decor item, or pair of stunning high heels, or a fancy purse: "Would I mind if Lexi destroyed this?" While staying nice and patient in my correction of her inborn need to chew and tear to shreds everything that is knee height or lower, I am evolving my own particular fashion and decor tastes, and slowing my impulse-buy urges to a crawl. Some people might be opposed to this concept, but all the trends point to minimalism and detachment from material things to make room for memories and relationships. You can't take it with you anyway!

Number three. If the stick is too large, it won't fit through the doggy door.

I pity poor Lexi as she struggles to fit the perfect stick, that is, a 3-foot-long tree branch in through the 6-inch-wide doggy door. It makes me think of the times where I just took on too much in my career or personal life. I ended up having to leave something behind, sometimes the very thing I thought I was meant to drag along with me. Anyhow, life seems to be better for her now inside with small inside-approved chewy toys than outside in the wind and snow with one spiky tree branch. What have you been trying to bring in through the doggy door lately?

Number four. Playtime and exercise are so, so important.

Too often we forget that rest and play are so essential to mental health. Lexi starts to try to find alternate methods of mental stimulation when she doesn't get playtime or walks. If lack of exercise and play affects her so, what kind of mental or physiological outburst is manifesting itself slowly inside of you? Uh oh. Better get moving... What sparks joy in your life? What lifts you out of your chair and away from the TV or computer? Do more of that and reap the benefits physically and mentally. Exercise different parts of your brain, and use different methods of exercise for your body to keep resilient!

Many people are quietly suffering and not seeking help or relief in this realm of health, whether it is a temporarily depressed mood (this was me pre-puppy dog) or a clinically diagnosable mental health condition. If it's just the former, you probably already KNOW what you need to let go of in order to make more room for joy, movement, and R and R. If it's the latter, please seek help from a health care provider you trust. First thing's first, you might want to step away from this computer and stretch. Maybe breathe in some fresh air from the outdoors. Perhaps it's more profound and involves some re-evaluation of where your career or relationships are headed. Or perhaps you just need a dog.

Love and prayers,

Bri <3

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