Brenda Leonard “Your truth, your voice, your story”

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All Posts in Category: Wellness

The Bond Between Pets and People

Whether they slither or swim, creep or crawl, prowl or prance our pets hold a place in our hearts that’s difficult to describe but not hard to express.  They’re part of our family coming with us on vacation, sleeping on our beds and starring in our family pictures.

There’s really nothing like coming home at the end of a long day and seeing that wagging tail and feeling the unconditional love from your dog to help you unwind and shake off the weight of your day. Of course if you’re coming home to a cat, the excitement may be a little more restrained, but the feeling of contentment that connection with Sir Pounce-A-Lot brings is priceless.

There’s no shortage of research on the value of the bond between pets and their owners. In fact, a 2014 study by the HABRI (Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation) determined that there are significant health benefits to owning a pet and in fact some doctors are even prescribing pet ownership to help with specific health conditions from heart health to PTSD.

In fact, studies have shown that pet owners have lower rates of depression than non-pet owners. They have lower blood pressure levels in stressful situations and simply engaging and playing with our pets increases our dopamine and serotonin levels which leaves us feeling more serene and peaceful. While people with dogs often see the greatest health benefits in pet ownership even watching fish in an aquarium can boost those serotonin levels and help us relax.

Pet ownership meets a fundamental human need – the need to be touched. The impact is no better demonstrated than the Team Greyhound Prison Program where inmates in Ohio can earn the privilege of caring for rescued greyhounds. For many of these inmates, the relationship with the dog is the first time they’ve experienced genuine affection. Other programs have inmates training dogs that may become guide dogs for the blind or companion animals for the disabled. Inmates participating in the programs talk about the impact the dogs make on their lives through giving them a sense of responsibility and the capacity to see beyond themselves for the first time.

The benefits of connecting with a pet reach from childhood to our golden years. Children who have pets learn to see beyond themselves, develop a deeper sense of compassion and generally have higher self-esteem. For seniors, a survey of 1000 Medicare patients noted 40% of those surveyed saw a doctor less frequently than the rest of the group. The group seeing a doctor less often were pet owners. Seniors with pets have lower blood pressure, feel less lonely and depressed and often tend to be more active. In fact having a pet even helped Alzheimer’s patients experience fewer anxious outbursts.

Aside from all the scientific research, it all comes down to love. Doesn’t matter if it’s feathers or fur, scales or skin, without a doubt our pets make our lives richer and fuller. Could there be anything better?

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Personalities are so Psychodynamic!

PsychodynamicPersonalities are so nifty. They really are. Each and every one comes in a one-of-a-kind expression. There are a lot of elements to what composes personality psychology; one of these elements being commonly known but possibly misunderstood. Many of us think that being an extrovert means being an outgoing person and alternatively that introverts are the shy guys. Although there is some merit to the generalization, it doesn’t paint a completely accurate picture of how this element of personality is owned and operated.

22256417_mExtroversion and introversion are not two exclusive categories but exist rather on a continuum of how you, as the unique individual that you are, allocate your mental resources. If you spend more of your energy processing what’s happening in your inside world rather than interacting and focusing on your outside world you likely tip more towards the introvert side of things. As more of an introvert you will also likely charge the battery of your being in solo, in other words, alone time may be one of your closest companions. If you are more of an extrovert you likely have a tendency to charge your battery in the company of others. Extroverts refuel by the exchanging of thoughts, ideas and emotional connections with others.

Research shows that personality remains fairly stable after the age of 24; however, it also notes that there is wiggle room. Nature and nurture can both tango with your tendencies throughout different stages in your life so be mindful of shifts in yourself and those around you. We can get confused and angry quite frankly when people change; change can be disorienting. Sometimes it takes time for people to understand why they are changing themselves too so patience is always virtue with yourself and with others.

I personally experienced a personality shift and took a slide across the introversion-extroversion scale when I went through a painful loss in my life. I used to be living on the edge of extroversion (I’m talking 99th percentile, assessment verified!). I was out and about every chance I got. Then my puppy Phoenix, before she even turned three, was diagnosed with aggressive bone cancer. I felt as if every bit of joy in my soul shut down, went out of business and left town for good. Although she was not a human child, it was still like she was an extension of me. I loved this 120lb tiger-striped, drool-face English Mastiff more than words can say. I had to make the excruciating decision to put her down in the matter of a week, and on impact, my life changed. My personality followed suit.

To Read More of Jaime’s Great Post, Click Here
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Forget Black and White, Let’s Think in Color!

People have the tendency to think in a black and white. It’s all in or all out; it’s off or it’s on; it’s healthy or it’s unhealthy. However, your body does not think in black in white, in fact, it very much thinks in color! Your body looks at a meal and says “What can I get out of this?” or “What do I want to hold onto? ” and definitely “!” when there is a little green goodness in the mix.

My boyfriend works really long hours operating his seasonal business in solar pool heating. When he gets home sometimes he just wants to throw a pizza in the oven or BBQ a big juicy steak. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I hear people beat themselves up saying “Oh I was so bad last night” (which again is thinking black and white, you’re either ‘good or bad‘). Even when you feel like eating what you perceive as ‘unhealthy’ snacks or meals you can always add beneficial things to it.

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