It’s the new year. A blank slate. A chance to get a fresh start. So here are some suggestions for you and your pet!
First, here are four ways we can take action to improve our mental and physical health for 2019 from Hancock Park resident and occasional Buzz contributor, Deborah Brooks, a fitness trainer and life coach.
1. Positive self-talk. Be kind to yourself. Human brains have a negativity bias and we have to work hard to counter balance that with positivity. Take in the good that is around you, like a beautiful sunny day or other simple pleasure. Every time you do that, you build up a little bit of neural structure that will gradually change your brain, and how you feel, suggests Dr. Rick Hanson in his extremely useful book, “Buddha’s Brain; The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom.”
2. Positive self-care. Brooks recommends taking small steps to be more healthy, like eating better or lightening your load by decluttering your house. For some it could be sleeping more or better by getting new pillows or sheets. Think of ways to reducing stress through exercise or meditation, whatever makes you feel more supported in your life. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, Brooks said to just identify one thing that you want to do and get started. “Start somewhere and you never know where it will lead,” Brooks told the Buzz.
3. Do something for others. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is help someone else, suggested Brooks. After you have decluttered your closest, give those items away to charity; consider reaching out to an elderly neighbor who lives alone; or volunteer with a worthy organization – there are so many in our neighborhood and near us.
4. Care for the earth. Make a commitment to only use earth-friendly products in your home and on yourself; throw away less and recycle more; spent more time outside, enjoying our wonderful urban tree canopy that shelters so many of our streets.
There’s lots of research that shows that spending time outside reduces blood pressure and improves well-being. And you can take your dog with you…which leads us to some great ideas shared by the LA Department of Animal Services to keep you and your pets happy and healthy in 2019.
1. Help your pet eat healthy and watch their weight.
Measuring meals can help you maintain your pet’s weight and their overall health. Whether you plan meals or free-feed your pet, calculate their calorie goals, find out how much you should feed each day, and measure it out to ensure proper nutrition.
2. Schedule a vet check-up.
Make sure your best friend is healthy by scheduling an annual exam with your vet and checking that his or her vaccines are up-to-date. Yearly examinations by the veterinarian are a key component of good preventive care. Many medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or heart problems are common in aging pets and are much easier to manage when found early.
3. Start a daily grooming routine.
Brushing your dog or cat daily only takes a few minutes and helps remove dead hair- which also reduces the amount of fuzz you find on your clothes, floor and furniture. It also helps distribute oils from the skin to their fur, keeping their coat shiny and healthy. Don’t forget to brush his or her teeth too! Brushing teeth often is the best way to keep tartar and plaque under control.
4. Teach an old dog a new trick.
Teaching your dog a new trick or playing a new game with your cat stimulates their mind. By keeping your furry friend’s brain active, you can actually help make your pet healthier and keep them out of trouble.
5. Update your pet’s ID information.
If you moved or have a new phone number, be sure to update your pet’s license, tags and microchip with your current contact information. It’s the best way to reunite you and your buddy if they happen to get lost.
6. Exercise together.
Going on extra walks each week or running around the dog park together is a great way to bond with your dog. It’ll get you both out of the house, and you and your pet will reap the rewards of healthy physical activity.
These six resolutions won’t only benefit your pet, but will strengthen your companionship with them, which only means more nuzzles from your best friend in the new year!