Do you ever wish that you could spend a sunny afternoon dozing in the sun or that you could dash up a tree to flush the birds – just because, well, because it’s your life? Here are some tips from your pets on how to lead a more carefree life (from WebMD, believe it or not!):
· Forget Multitasking – When dogs have a job to do (like digging or chasing a ball), they give it their undivided attention. It turns out people should probably do the same. Stanford researchers found that attention and memory suffer in those who juggle work, email, and web-surfing, compared to those who focus on one task at a time. Other studies suggest that some employees actually lose time when multitasking.
· Take Naps – You won’t catch your pet going from dawn to dusk without any shut-eye. There’s good evidence humans can benefit from catnaps too. A study involving about 24,000 people indicates regular nappers are 37% less likely to die from heart disease than people who nap only occasionally. Short naps can also enhance alertness and job performance. I know a veterinarian-practice owner who regularly takes a 30-minute nap at 2pm each day he works, and he swears it allows him to go full-speed the rest of the afternoon. Besides, Facebook and web-surfing really aren’t restful.
· Walk Every Day – Whether you have four legs or two, walking is one of the safest, easiest ways to burn calories and boost heart health. Get outdoors – and you won’t always smell like your patients!
· Cultivate Friendships – People are social animals, and friendships have measurable health benefits. Researchers in Australia followed 1,500 older people for 10 years. Those with the most friends were 22% less likely to die than those with the fewest friends.
· Live In the Moment – Living in the moment may be one of the most important lessons we can learn from our pets. In a study called “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind,” Harvard psychologists conclude that people are happiest when doing activities that keep the mind focused, such as sex or exercise. Planning, reminiscing, or thinking about anything other than the current activity can undermine happiness.
· Don’t Hold a Grudge – Part of living in the moment is letting bygones be bygones. Let go of old grudges, and you’ll literally breathe easier. Chronic anger has been linked to a decline in lung function, while forgiveness contributes to lower blood pressure and reduced anxiety. People who forgive also tend to have higher self-esteem.
· Wag – Maybe you don’t have a tail. But you can smile or put a spring in your step when you’re feeling grateful. Researchers have found a strong connection between gratitude and general well-being. In one study, people who kept gratitude journals had better attitudes, exercised more, and had fewer physical complaints.
· Maintain Curiosity – Curiosity may be hazardous to a cat’s health. But no so for humans. Researchers have found that people who are more curious tend to have a greater sense of meaning in life.
· Be Silly – Indulging in a little silliness may have serious health benefits. Cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center concluded that “laughter is the best medicine” especially when it comes to your heart.
· Drink Water When You’re Thirsty – Dogs don’t lap up sports drinks when they’ve been playing hard – and most people don’t need to either.
· Eat Fish – Most cats would trade kibble for a can of tuna any day. Luckily, you can choose to make fish a regular part of your diet. Salmon, tuna, trout, and other fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and arthritis. In addition, Rush University researchers found that people who eat fish at least once a week are 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. (Are you paying attention yet?)
· If You Love Someone, Show It – Dogs don’t play hard to get – when they love you, they show you. It’s a good approach for people seeking to strengthen their relationships. Small, thoughtful gestures can have a big impact on how connected and satisfied friends feel.
· Play – Play enhances intelligence, creativity, problem-solving, and social skills. So take a cue from your pet and devote yourself to an activity that has no purpose other than sheer fun.
· Make Time to Groom – Aside from the obvious health benefits of bathing and brushing your teeth, good personal hygiene is vital to self-esteem.
· Be Aware of Body Language – Dogs are excellent at reading each other’s intent from body language. Humans, not so much. While most of us do reveal our emotions through posture, speech patterns, and eye contact, other people generally aren’t very good at reading those cues.
· Stretch Often – Stretching will keep you limber, and may improve flexibility, increase muscle strength and endurance. Try this at least a couple of times a day in your office or break room. If for no other reason, just look how content your cat appears after a huge stretch.
I think our pets are on to something! Happy New Year!