COVID-19 and its disastrous effects have taken the world by storm. And while we have to keep our dogs safe during this time, I wanted to focus this post primarily on my dog parents. I thought it was necessary to shift focus today due to the gravity of the situation, particularly since we’ve all been mandated to self-isolate and quarantine ourselves, which can result in another devasting blow- coronavirus cabin fever.
While some of you are welcoming a much-needed break from the office or the daily hustle and bustle of your life, living in isolation is no paradise.
Cabin fever and its insidious effects are real and are sure to creep in if you’re not careful. Too much isolation can lead to restlessness, irritability, or anxiety, and depression in more severe cases.
Because just like our dogs, we humans are social animals. Even a hermit still requires some sort of social connection because we simply are not designed to live life in complete solitude.
So keep reading as I share some tips to help you, members of my human pack, stay mentally and physically healthy during this challenging time.
Cabin fever is often a direct attack on your mind. Therefore, now more than ever, it’s essential to keep a strong mental fortitude. That starts with being rational and maintaining a positive attitude. So many people are panicking, and panic buying. It’s never a good idea to make decisions when you’re in panic mode. Also, being in a constant state of anxiety is not good for your health in general.
One way to maintain your rationale is to stay positive, and a gratitude journal will help you get there. Because when you’re going through a difficult time finding something that you’re grateful for will help shift your perspective in a healthy way. And if you and your family are healthy during this pandemic, that’s a great place to start. There are many in less fortunate circumstances, so seeing the silver lining of your situation will help you to stay positive and more inclined to find solutions to your problems as opposed to stewing in your anger about any current issues you’re experiencing that may be directly caused by the virus.
To help maintain your rational thinking, you can check out this article by the Wall Street Journal. It will provide you with a brief history of how the U.S., in particular, has dealt with previous crises and disasters in the past. And what’s great about reading this history is that you’ll learn the fact the U.S and the world in general recovered.
Some crises recovered more quickly than others, but seeing how we handled difficulties in the past in less sophisticated times in terms of resources and technology should help you to feel confident that the world will recover from this crisis as well. There is light at the end of the tunnel; it just requires a little patience to get through this.
It’s essential to stay on top of the latest news as it relates to the coronavirus. But you don’t need to consume yourself with it 24/7. I noticed that the “trending” movies on streaming services like Netflix were movies like “Outbreak” and “Pandemic.” If you’re not someone who is already in a state of fear and confusion, that’s fine, but if you are, watching movies like that will only increase your anxiety and stress.
I would suggest changing the mood of your environment by watching something light or upbeat like a silly rom-com like “Dog Days” to help lift your spirits.
It’s actually a charming movie with good actors and so happens to be themed around the human relationships with dogs. Losing yourself in something light and fun will take your mind off of things and serves as a sweet little escape.
Here is a list from CNET that offers a list of feel-good movies to help us get through our quarantines. I’ve seen most of the movies on this list, and they’re excellent. I love feel-good movies. “Billy Elliot” is one of my favorites on the list along with “Ratatouille.” I love true stories and food, so there you go. But the other titles are fantastic, and I’m sure you’ll find something you can enjoy watching even with your dog by your side.
Read a book: If you have additional time on your hands, now is a good time to stimulate your mind by learning something new. If you’re having some behavioral issues with your dog, read about some training techniques. One book I’d recommend starting with is “The Secret Language of Dogs.”
Having worked in pet care, I’m fully aware of first-time dog parents who mistake normal dog behavior as “problem” behavior. So before you call a dog trainer, I’d first read about what is normal dog behavior. And this book is an easy read and written by a prominent authority in dog training.
You may find that a dog trainer was unnecessary. Instead, you’ll save your time and money and gain a better relationship with your dog in the process.
Learn to cook a new dish: Making something that is not apart of your usual repertoire will help to expand your mind. As much as I cherish baked goods, I’m not really good at baking. But I’m on my second set of botched buttermilk biscuits this week.
And although one batch tasted more like birthday cake than an actual biscuit, it was still pretty tasty! The point is to try something new or fun that you’re NOT good at as opposed to doing something you’ve already mastered. That’s how you expand your mind. So find some fun challenges to attempt during this time.
Another great way to stave off the effects of coronavirus cabin fever is by maintaining structure to your day. This will require you to create a daily schedule and stick to it. This may be easy for some who are able to work from home. But if you’re out of work at this time, it’s crucial to maintain some sort of routine to help ease the blow of the fact that your daily life has been totally disrupted.
You can keep it simple by waking, eating, and sleeping at the same times and then by filling in your day with some productive activities which lead me to my next point.
You can fill in the “productive” portion of your daily schedule by revisiting an old to-do list and complete some of the tasks on a regular basis. It would also help if you set achievable daily goals for yourself so that you’ll feel good about yourself each day as you see the progress you’ve made in completing your tasks. The tasks can be significant to small from:
The list is endless, but the goal is to maintain some sort of purpose each day and have something that makes you feel good to have accomplished at the end of your day.
In addition to maintaining social distance, and good hygiene, one way to help keep yourself healthy from the virus is by maintaining your physical health.
You want to make sure that you’re eating healthy meals, mainly since depending on where you are in the world, access to outdoors is highly restricted to only getting your basic necessities. And sitting around eating all day without balancing it out with some sort of workout is a recipe for disaster.
In that case, you can still work out indoors via work out videos on Youtube. There is an array of workout channels to choose from. Just pick your exercise of choice and set a couple of times during the week for some physical activity to keep yourself healthy.
But fortunate enough for my dog parents, you can still go outside to walk your dog. And if you are a high energy person and have a high energy dog, then a walk around the block won’t cut it. So if you need more of an intense workout outdoors, just take the road less traveled-literally.
Many people in our neighborhood are clustering around the regular jogging and bike paths to workout or walk their dogs. But that doesn’t really help maintain social distance. And we need to be responsible in helping to slow the spread of the virus.
So it may help if you can try carving out your own walking or jogging route to one that is based on time instead of a specific route or location. Basically, avoid crowded areas and reverse your course once you’ve reached a particular time like 15-minutes. This way you can achieve a 30-minute walk or run with your dog without making contact with too many people.
Additionally, I previously drafted a post on 14 fun things to do with your dog. It’s complete with indoor activities to help stave off coronavirus cabin fever and can help supplement physical exercise for your dog as well since time outdoors is still heavily restricted in certain locations.
Many dog parents are also human parents or live with large families and are not isolated at all. In this case, some may even idealize isolation because with the schools being closed, many parents have to work from home, and play the role of teacher while also caring for Fido in the process.
So, in this case, people in this category are not subject to the effects of coronavirus cabin fever and may often require the opposite-some personal space. So it’s important to try and create some “me-time.” Establish some portion of the day or week when you’re on Do Not Disturb so that you can:
When you have so many hats to wear daily, it’s essential to enforce a little tough love every now and then to put your needs first. How can you give quality care and attention to others when you’re running on fumes? You can’t.
While I don’t have kids, I have pet sit for what I call “energizer puppies” while also having a full day’s work. And energizer puppies never get tired, even after hour-long walks. And they just want to play 24-7-it’s totally exhausting.
So I learned to establish boundaries and create a schedule including one just for play-time to prevent burn-out on my end. And as parents of human babies, you can do the same.
This way, you won’t feel guilty when you have to tell your kids “no, it’s “me-time” because you’ve already given them a few hours of one-on-one time each day. They’ll eventually understand that you’re not a robot, you get tired, and you need to replenish. Replenishing will enable you to be that fun and happy mom or dad that they love and enjoy so much.
If you’re directly affected financially by the coronavirus and were forced to close your business or got laid off, as a result, help is on the way. Here is an in-depth article by the NY Times that outlines what the government is planning to do and what your options are if you qualify.
There is even assistance in the works for gig workers like Uber drivers, which is unprecedented. Just do a little digging to see what’s available in your city, state, country, etc., and get the assistance you need until we all recover from this crisis.
Lastly, the ultimate way to eliminate coronavirus cabin fever is through social connection. Stay connected by calling, emailing, or face-timing your friends and family, especially your senior relatives. And don’t forget to send pics of your fur baby. Cute dog videos and photos always brighten up everyone’s day.
And check in on your senior neighbors in person if possible. You’ll want to maintain your social distance as to not get them sick. However, if you’re making a trip to the market for your necessities, it can’t hurt to see if they need anything.
And if you have any extra safety supplies like a mask or hand sanitizer, give some to your elderly neighbors. Some elderly people are still active and may want to go for a walk occasionally. So if you can assist in keeping them safe, that would be wonderful!
I hope that you find these tips helpful and instrumental in staving off any possible effects of coronavirus cabin fever. The goal is to help keep you and your families productive and healthy until we reach a full recovery.