I’ve written about Natures Health Benefits before but what about the benefits of animals and pets?
Living with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be difficult enough as it is, the day to day ‘stuff’ can be draining, life becomes frustrating. Add to the mix a 40 hour working week and simple chores or tasks become nigh on impossible.
Now imagine this lifestyle with added hounds… two New Zealand Huntaways, brother and sister…
both wanting the doggy nirvana- endless runs, treats, ball throwing and open spaces! Now living in Cornwall certainly has it’s advantages, living 10 minutes from 3.5 miles of golden sands, 7 minutes from Tehidy woods, 10 minutes walk from open fields. But with the, what can be called horrendous, symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis things weren’t as easy as you would think. The diarrhoea, fatigue, aches and pains made a simple dog walk more difficult and to a degree stressful.
You might be asking yourself, why own a dog if you have a chronic illness!
I can personally vouch that the positive points far outweigh the negative-
- The benefits of fresh air on your mind and body, and if you’re lucky enough you’ll benefit from the sunshine too. Vitamin D helps battle the anxiety and depression that can be associated with an IBD.
- Exercise, be it a gentle stroll around your estate, running in Tehidy woods or a paddle along the beach not only has huge benefits on your physical health but also your mental health. The release of endorphins and serotonin (happy hormones) giving you that ‘feel good’ factor.
- When you’re having a bad day, you have an amazing companion to help boost your mood, help you make it through those dark days. They are non-judgmental, they don’t care if my colostomy bag is on show.
- Having a companion that needs exercise is a reason to get outdoors, you don’t need to be yomping 15 miles each day (unless you want too) a walk around your estate (10 minutes) is a good start. This is easily squeezed in a couple times a day. Even this simple walk can help boost your mood and aid restful sleep.
- The enjoyment of seeing your faithful companion smile is contagious, not long before you will be smiling.
I’m not saying ostomates and anyone living with an IBD must go out and purchase a dog, far from it, that would be completely irresponsible of me. But knowing that having a furry companion in your life can have huge benefits to anyone struggling with illness, be it physical, psychological or both. If you don’t have a furry friend in the family then volunteering with organisations such as The Cinnamon Trust is a great way of helping others aswell as yourself.
When I picked up Meg and Stewie there was no intention of them becoming therapy dogs, they have certainly turned into members of the family more than pets, the therapy they provide is definitely helpful to my own mental and physical health and beneficial to a couple of my clients too.