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Let cats be your mentors

“When it comes to boosting a person’s inner feel-good hormones, pets are super” says Dale L. Anderson, a board-certified surgeon trained in holistic medicine. He continues, “I’ve often told some of my more highly stressed patients to spend more quiet time with their cats and dogs.”  Rolan Tripp, DVM, concurs, “Cats have the ability to raise the level of serotonin, the feel-good hormone, in their owners, much as Prozac does. We can measure the chemical changes occurring in the brain.”

Ten relaxation techniques you can learn from your pet:

1.  Cats are natural yoga teachers. Cats know and show us the value of stretching. Our tight and achy muscles welcome a good, soft stretch anytime, but especially in the morning before we get up. Muscles are warm from bed, and it’s a great way to start the day. Try it.

2.  Cats know the therapeutic value of touch. So do dogs and other animals. They know when they need a cuddle, and usually when you need one as well. You may find, that although the times when they ask for attention may be an interruption for you, the relaxation and touch will be a therapeutic time-out.

3.  Cats know the value of solitude. Few of us in this world spend any time alone. The phone is ringing, or we are on the computer. The family is in need of our presence. Try finding 5 or 10 minutes a day to spend by yourself without interruption. We need quiet and solitude to recharge our batteries. Those of us who run on low energy as it is probably need it even more.

4.  Cats know the importance of power napping.  Any of us who have pets know that they sleep a good part of the day. If you are tired or sleepy, it makes sense to nap. But we are so conditioned by society that it is “lazy” to sleep during the day, we do ourselves the disservice of struggling to stay awake even when we are exhausted. Could we learn from our pets?

5. Cats know the value of eating right. Cats are picky eaters. They eat small amounts when they are hungry. They love fish, which is high in good fatty acids. There are many studies that show that humans would be wise to eat 5 or 6  small meals a day instead of 3 large ones.  Yet most of us continue to follow that routine, even when it is not necessary.

6. Cats walk away from irritating scenes. When faced with the option of sticking around or leaving screaming children, noisy vacuum cleaners or loud-talking visitors, cats usually retreat to quieter places in the home. They aren’t being rude; they recognize they don’t need to subject themselves to an unpleasant situation. “Cats will walk away from irritating situations rather than be confrontational, which requires a lot more energy, and a lot more stress.” Anderson says, “They go to places where there is better chemistry. We can’t always leave unpleasant situations, but when we get the opportunities, we should take a lesson from our cats and walk away. It is far healthier on our bodies.” For those of us who suffer with CFIDS/FM, this is very important advice. We need to make more opportunities to walk away, and save our energy for positive things rather than irritating or confrontational situations.

7.  Cats live in the present. How many of us, me included, find ourselves stressing about what we should do in the future, or what we should have done in the past. We spend time worrying about what will happen if a particular event occurs. All of our stress and worrying just decreases the amount of energy we have to do what we need and want to do in the present.

8.  Cats are candid. They will ask for what they need and want. We worry about whether we should expose our need and ask for help - or if that request will inconvenience another person. We don’t want to be a burden. But if it is something we truly need, it certainly takes less energy to ask than to hint and hope the request will be understood. In addition, we save ourselves the aggravation of not  having the need met.

9.  Cats practice good hygiene.  For some of us, simply taking a shower is all of our energy for the day. But we feel better, and more relaxed when the shower is over. Taking care of one’s self is important. I know I certainly feel better about the day when my face is washed and my hair combed. If I can get through that, I can tackle the rest of the day. After I rest, of course!

10.  Cats are not materialistic.  Many of us have learned this by buying toys for our pets, which sit and do nothing, while the pet chases shadows, or plays with piece of lint on the carpet. Trying to ‘keep up with the neighbors’ is stressful, both emotionally and financially, especially for those of us on fixed incomes.  Learning to use our money wisely, for our comfort, is more important than the image we present to others. Cats simply don’t care. Why should we?

Source:  Article in Cat Fancy Magazine, written by Arden Moore, entitled “Relax” and an article written by columnist Eunice Beck, RN, in’s Coping Corner.