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Take Care of Yourself to Better Take Care of Others

I feel a bit like a broken record sometimes mentioning how busy I am.  Besides working on this blog, I also work a 'regular' job, and my fiance Chris and I are slowly trying to open our own business.  Lately my job has been giving me double the hours that I'm used too, which is awesome when I get my paychecks but not so awesome when it comes to time management.  Of course all that is on top of everything I do to care for our home and pets, plus the volunteer work I like to do whenever I can find the time too.

Keeping busy can be a good thing, but quite a bit lately I've been ending my days feeling burnt out and stressed.  I find myself daydreaming about simple pleasures, like relaxing with a good book, or watching something on TV without falling asleep.  I remember the days when I could finish a book in a few days!  These days I often take months to finish one, thanks to the fact that almost every time I actually find the time to read I get through maybe a chapter or two before my eyes start revolting.

I just adore my pets, as well as animals in general.  I spend a lot of my time playing with, training, exercising, and otherwise caring for my personal pets.  I also do what I can for animals in need.  I invest my time, money, and emotions into my animal friends.  I've never regretted any of it, but I often times spend so much time caring for others that I run out of time to take down time for myself.

Fen resting when he was sick last month.

After all, what pet lover hasn't spent sleepless nights caring for a sick pet, chosen pet food over new sneakers, taken Fido for just one more walk because he's excited to go, even though you're basically asleep on your feet?

Pets are amazing.  They become members of our families, and can improve our lives in so many ways.  But caring for pets can sometimes be draining.  Much like life in general, as much as we want things to always go our way, owning pets isn't always sunshine and butterflies.  It's puppy snuggles and proud moments, but it's also puppy poop and frustrating moments.

I think it's common for pet lovers to put the needs of their pets above their own.  Our animals didn't ask to be our pets, after all.  By taking them into our homes we make a commitment to provide for them.  That, in most situations, wouldn't be enough to completely drain someone.  We find time to catch up on our sleep after staying up to care for a sick pet, and buy those sneakers with our next paycheck.  But when we continuously make sacrifices for our pets, for our other loved ones, then sacrifice more to help animals in the shelter, all on limited sleep because we also have to work and just generally deal with everyday life, sometimes things can start to add up.

It's important, especially for those of us who care so much for others, to take time to care for ourselves!  It can be all too easy to overlook our own needs when we have so much other stuff on our plates, but doing so, for me at least, often leads to a cycle of stress and frustration.  The more we ignore our own needs, the worse we feel, the harder/more stressful it can feel to devote ourselves to others.  If we're tired and run down from not sleeping/eating/etc well, or stressed and frustrated from a lack of down time, then we're most likely not on top of our game when it comes to our pets.   You have to take care of yourself to be at your best when it comes to taking care of others!

I know my own stress for sure impacts my dogs and how we interact with each other.  I suffer from anxiety so stress is a pretty regular part of my life, but lately I've been feeling worse than usual.  We have a lot going on right now, and working so many extra hours means I haven't had much time to myself.  Before things got too bad I decided to take a step back and try to figure out what I could do to eliminate some stress.  I've been trying to set aside a bit of time each day when I can forget about work, get a break from Chris and the pets, and just relax.  I've been trying to cook healthier meals and I recently started a 30 day yoga class.  Having some time to really focus on myself, even if it's only for 30 minutes a day, really helps me stay on top of my game when it comes to caring for others.

We'd love to hear from you!  Comment below.  Does caring or making sacrifices for your pets ever cause you stress?  What are some things you enjoy doing for yourself to help combat the stress?

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