If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a totally devoted doggie mom or dad. Furkids are amazing, aren’t they? They give you unconditional love, oodles of cuddles, and so many belly laughs. Their very presence makes life as a human being so much more enjoyable.
Because doggos seem so carefree, it can be easy to forget that they’re susceptible to the same kinds of issues we are. In other words, dogs get stressed out and sick, just like you or me! Unfortunately, they can’t talk about it, so they show their humans how they’re feeling in other ways.
But don’t worry! There are tools that can keep your precious pup happy, healthy, and relaxed. And, they deserve the very best, don’t they?!
How Stress Manifests Itself in Dogs
Your dog is a member of the family, but unlike everyone else, he or she can’t talk about what’s bothering them. Instead, they generally exhibit their issues in negative behavior or physical problems.
According to PetCareRx, anxiety can manifest itself both subtly and overtly in your canine best buddy. As far as subtle signs, your dog might hide, seek comfort from you, shake or pant, or engage in excessive licking. When it comes to more overt behavior, your dog might bark or howl, act aggressive, try to escape, display excess energy, go to the bathroom in the house, destroy things, or even have panic attacks (yes, dogs can have them too!).
Sometimes it can be tough to determine what might be causing these symptoms in your dog, but it’s worth doing some investigation to find out. Does your dog bark excessively when you turn on a certain appliance (the scary vacuum)? Does she pant like crazy on the Fourth of July (fireworks)? Does he hide under the bed when Aunt Judy comes to visit? Usually your dog’s behavior can give you clues about what’s stressing them out, and sometimes you can remove or lessen the stressor to make life easier on them (maybe it’s time to stop inviting Aunt Judy over).
If the stressor isn’t quite so easy to determine though, you might need to look elsewhere for the root of the problem.
Your Stress Levels Affect Them, Too
Dogs don’t have bills to pay or work stress to deal with, but they do pick up on what you’re going through. If you’re dealing with some nightmarish stuff at the office, it’s likely little Spot will absorb some of that energy.
Researchers in Austria recently determined that dogs get stressed by picking up anxiety and negativity from their owners. More than 100 dogs and their guardians underwent tests, including saliva samples to measure cortisol, the stress hormone. The owners were assessed for five major hallmarks of personality: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. The dogs’ personalities were also assessed. One of the researchers, Dr. Iris Schoberl, of the University of Vienna, said both owners and dogs influenced each other’s coping mechanisms, with the human partner being more influential than the dog.
“Our results nicely fit to experience from practice: owners and dogs are social dyads [a group of two], and they influence each other’s stress coping,” she told BBC News. Overall they concluded that dogs are sensitive to their owners’ emotional states, and may even replicate those states!
And your dog picking up on human stress can have real consequences. Studies have even connected hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) — a serious stomach illness in dogs — to stress levels in their owners. And amazingly, one study showed that stress can even cause premature greying in dogs, just like in people!
Luckily, the symbiosis between you and your dog works both ways. If you know how to chill, your dog will pick up on that as well. In other words, strategies to help you decompress can also work for your furry friend; many dog owners today have found that meditation is as helpful for their dogs as it is for them.
How You Can Help
If you’re worried about your dog being stressed, there are lots of things you can do to help them relax. Here are a few ideas:
Learn how to Meditate together. Did you know that dogs can be incredibly effected by certain types of meditation?! SOS Method has a Happy Dog series designed specifically to help your four legged friend get to that warm, fuzzy place of calm and relaxation. And it works for you, too! Both you and your pooch can sit through the meditations together, with him or her sitting on your lap (depending on size!) or close by. Through specially formulated music and vocals, the meditations help your pet’s cortisol levels plummet. Dog owners are using this series to improve the quality of life for their beloved companions – and themselves. As one dog owner shared after doing the SOS, “My dog, Scooter, was constantly yapping, and jumping on people when I got him. But after listening to SOS Method meditations he began to be more calm. Everyone has noticed the change, even my trainer!”
Remember, the healing goes both ways! The natural body chemical, oxytocin is sparked in meditation. It has powerful effects in both our dog’s body and ours; it increases a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells. This predisposes us to an environment where we can be healthier. And, meditation is one super simple way to help us and our dogs get happier and healthier day by day.
Pet them. Think about how much you love a good massage … that’s what petting is to your canine companion! Stroke him or her gently on the neck, back, or tummy. Think of it as a mini massage for the sake of mental health. A soft touch can work wonders!
Try a holistic therapy. Lots of pet owners enjoy the many new things on the market today that help your dog get calmer; Nutri-Vet Pet Eze, Richard’s Organics Pet Calm, or Dr. Harvey’s Relax & Stress Herbal Dog Supplement. There are treats, wafers, drops, and supplements, all of which include natural ingredients like chamomile, ginger root, and tryptophan and promise to help your pup relax. See if any of the above work for you — just make sure to stick to formulas that are verified safe for use by doggos.
Go for a run. Sometimes the best way to get rid of anxious energy is to run it out! Take your pooch out for a quick jog around the block — or longer if he’s extra energetic! If you have a frail or older dog, you might want to stick to a fast walk. Either way, take in the neighborhood and let your dog pee on everything he sees. It’s his way of saying hi, after all.
After releasing excess negative energy, it’s a good time for a quick and soothing or inspiring meditation, to get back to that ongoing healing state of mind. How amazing that today we can find wellness benefits that support us and those we love most!
Turn on the news anytime and one thing becomes perfectly clear: everyone’s talking about healthcare. From Instagram to the steps of Capitol Hill.
It’s definitely a non-partisan issue – healthcare is important to all of us; rich, poor, young and old. We all want to live longer, healthier lives. So, what can we do while confusion continues to play out on the hill?
Everyone knows meditation is beneficial, but just HOW beneficial is it? And, is it worth the time to find one that works for you? More than one journal review on mindfulness meditation techniques has concluded that it has major potential as a positive healthcare intervention:
“The higher quality studies have shown statistically significant results in mitigating psychological stress, depressive recurrence and pain. These studies have also demonstrated statistically significant increases in spirituality and positive health measures,” writes researcher Hilary Abbey.
Authors from Duke, Kaiser Permanente, Harvard, and Yale, among others, contributed to a another journal article that points to a remarkable amount of evidence on the positive health effects of meditation programs.
In a world where we’re struggling for the funds to insure healthcare coverage for a growing population, meditation is easy, inexpensive, and so beneficial.
Cutting Costs and Changing Lives
You might be wondering — does meditation ACTUALLY reduce healthcare costs? The simple answer is YES. There are many studies that have analyzed this for years, and they agree: meditation saves big bucks.
One paper evaluated various studies of meditation and cardiovascular disease and found that meditation “may be responsible for reductions of 80% or greater in medical insurance claims and payments to physicians.” That’s incredible considering that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death; by 2030 they’re expected to cost the U.S. more than $818 billion annually.
Helping People Get Healthier
Cancer: Another study examined the effects of mindfulness meditation on a group of women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The women who meditated had
- better immune system biomarkers
- reduced stress hormones
- improved quality of life
- better coping skills.
Considering cancer costs the U.S. around $87.8 billion in direct medical costs per year, these benefits are invaluable.
Depression is an illness that takes a massive financial toll on society, estimated at a whopping $210 billion per year. A meditation-based intervention for depression was shown to be better at preventing relapse than antidepressants — and a meditation-based stress reduction program was found to successfully treat anxiety disorders, as well.
Wellness at Work and Reducing the Bottom Line
When we’re talking about healthcare costs, employers often carry a large share of the financial burden. When meditation is part of an employee wellness program, it can make a world of difference to the company’s budget. And to the wellbeing and productivity of each employee.
So how much — exactly — can meditation and wellness efforts cut costs for businesses and employers? Johnson & Johnson estimates that wellness programs have saved the organization $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.
Healthier Employees, Higher Profits
Many companies today are realizing that meditation can make a big difference to their bottom line and the many benefits it brings; healthier employees mean more profits. The Huffington Post reported on the focus of Promega — a major biotech company. “Promega is among the increasing ranks of companies that have come to embrace so-called mindfulness activities — concentrated meditation aimed at sharpening focus and reducing stress — in a bid to improve the well-being of their workforces and, by extension, the bottom line,”
Healthcare giant Aetna is another example. After realizing that workers in its most stressful jobs were racking up healthcare bills that exceeded those of other employees by around $2,000 a year, they ended up reducing costs by seven percent — “a savings the CEO pegs in part to limiting stress through meditation and yoga.”
When wellness programs are added to health benefits plans, it can change the company culture for the better, people are happier, and profits increase. It’s a win win all the way around. One company, SOS Method, provided meditations, practical tools and Discovery Series programs to (bla bla Safari camps. ____name of woman and position – reported that, “ give her quote from video.” Everyone, from the staff to the CEO’s, were excited by how easily they could incorporate SOS into their daily lives.
More top level management is catching on — just ask all of the CEOs who are into the practice. Executive Management Associates CEO Nancy Slomowitz, for example, began offering meditation classes to staffers and reduced her company’s health insurance costs.
Creating a Sustainable, Happy Future
Around $3.2 trillion is spent on healthcare every year in the U.S. That’s a staggering number. Imagine if we all embraced meditation as a form of preventative care? How much money would we save? How many lives would be changed?
Clearly, meditation is more than just a nice idea; it’s a demonstrably effective means of lowering healthcare costs and developing a needed happiness quotient into the welfare of each person. On a society-wide level, this is a game-changer! Maybe the healthcare concerns of today are actually creating the perfect storm to bring about healthier happier lives for us all.
It’s not easy to be a young person in today’s chaotic and constantly changing world. Dealing with the burdens of our over-stressed, over-committed society — all while trying to grow, develop, and find happiness can lead to emotional overload.
Youth mental health is a society-wide issue, and statistically, young people, 13- 25 are suffering from some serious problems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up report that up to 20% of children and adolescents suffer from a disabling mental illness. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents worldwide, and 1 in 5 children and adolescents between 9 and 17 have a mental health disorder that actually impairs their daily functioning.
That’s rough stuff when you’re just starting out in the world.
These numbers might sound scary, but there are ways to help our kids develop coping strategies that can improve their mental health and help boost the effectiveness of any other treatments.
An Evidence-Based Approach
Modern medicine has come a long way in treating psychological issues; finding skilled and compassionate psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists can help young people get better. Finding the right doctor is key; they need to be able to connect with their patients and offer tools and knowledge that support positive change. In addition to traditional treatments, there are support programs that have been proven to be extremely effective.
Good Habits for a Healthy Life
Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to help kids manage life’s struggles and even and transform how they perceive them. One study of college students found that meditation lowered blood pressure due to psychological distress. It also improved coping skills and helped lower their risk of hypertension.
Another study tested mindfulness meditation among students with learning disabilities (teens who tend to have higher levels of anxiety, school-related stress, and other issues). Participants showed major improvement, including decreased state and trait anxiety, enhanced social skills, and improved academic performance.
Less Stress, More Self-Esteem
Yet another study tested mindfulness-based stress reduction in 14 to 18 year olds in an outpatient psychiatric facility. Those who went through the program reported reduced anxiety, depression, and somatic (bodily) distress, and increased self-esteem and sleep quality. Also, a large-scale review of meditation interventions suggested that these programs increased self-awareness, self-reflection, emotional intelligence/regulation, and social skills. Pretty impressive stuff.
Best of all, a new study has shown that mind-body practices (meditation, yoga, etc.) can literally change DNA. As NBC News put it: “they actually have the ability to reverse molecular reactions to stress in our DNA that can lead to poor health and depression.” That’s huge, particularly for young people who are trying to adopt healthy habits for a thriving life.
The evidence is everywhere! Mindfulness and meditation can make a major difference when it comes to youth mental health.
Coping Skills Are Key
If you’ve got a teen in need of mental health help — or you’re a young person yourself — there are lots of ways to benefit from a mindfulness practice. Here are some suggestions:
- Try SOS Method – it’s meditation reinvented – it works in just 5 minutes – even if your mind isn’t still. Kids say it’s so enjoyable they actually like practicing it. SOS has programs specifically for teens that promote rapid positive change. The Happy Kids program helps to shift a negative state of mind, and develop new habits that cause wellbeing and lifelong happiness. The Happy Kids series is filled with tips, tools, and stories they can relate to, some about young people who noticed positive changes within hours.
- Use technology in a positive way. While smartphones and computers can be distracting, they can also serve a positive purpose. Kids, teens, and college students can use their favorite tech to do quick, easy meditations in five or 11 minutes via the SOS website or app. Greater calm and stress-relief is literally at their fingertips.
- Lead by example. If you’re the parent of a child or teen, make sure you’re engaging in a mindfulness practice yourself. Set time aside each morning or afternoon to dedicate to meditation. Once they see how much happier it makes you – and how great it makes you feel – they’ll want to get on board, too. Psychologists have long known that children imitate adults, so give them something awesome to emulate! Adult mental health = youth mental health. And, it gives you both a common ground where communication improves as well as kindness and caring.
- Take it outside. It’s summer, it’s sunny, and fresh air is SO GOOD FOR YOU. You’re your meditation out practice outdoors — use the SOS Elevate & Energize series, which you can do while walking or driving with the kids. Or, take the whole family out and do a group relaxation before kayaking, hiking, or swimming. Being out in nature will make it super fun for everyone and set the stage for a fantastic day.
- Reward positive habits. If you’re a parent, guardian, or teacher, give kids incentive to #Power UP, practice meditation, by offering challenges and rewards for daily practice. Make sure you’re doling out lots of healthy goodies – tasty snacks, special outings, fun games — or anything else they’re really excited about.
- Add it to the workday. If you’re a young adult just starting out in the work world, bring mindfulness to your office environment. Add a five-minute meditation break to your lunch hour, or make sure it’s the first thing you do when you arrive in the a.m. Meditating will bring inspiration and focus to everything you do.
Youth mental health affects all of us — and impacts our global community in a big way. We need to give our teens and young people the tools to make sure they’re happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. We can create a happier, kinder, and more inspired world together!
Summer is literally days away, which means vacas and getaways are on the horizon! Nothing beats sailing away for some seriously unforgettable adventures.
Of course, life on-the-go presents some challenges. Namely, how can you maintain the good-for-you lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to cultivate? You don’t want to let all the healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to cultivate disappear like lost luggage.
Not to worry. We’ve got some tips on how to keep yourself on track while you’re traveling the world – or just indulging in a little staycation.
At home, you probably have a schedule that’s jam-packed with positive stuff. You exercise regularly, eat right, engage in a daily meditation practice, and do things that soothe your soul.
On the road, however, staying on track is way more challenging. But one of the keys to avoiding the pitfalls of unpredictability is planning ahead. While you can’t plan your vaca schedule down to the minute, (and who would want to?), you can definitely set yourself up for success.
Before you leave, use an app like MapMyRun to check for running routes in the area near your hotel or Airbnb. If you have paths planned out in advance, you’re a lot more likely to strap on those running shoes.
You can also do some research on local gyms The first session is usually free, and many spots offer a one-week trial pass to use the facilities. Or, you might want to try the ClassPass app, which lets you pay to try classes at different fitness studios in any given area. Doing this ahead of time will make it way easier to get up and go.
If you’ve got some extra bucks and time, you could even do some searching for a personal trainer who’ll put you through some paces while you’re in town. It’s a great way to meet people and find out some insider info about the area you’re staying in.
When it comes to healthy eats, the first step is snacks. Packing enough to get you through the airport/airplane is crucial. Think fruit, nuts, energy bars, and other easily portable/compact goodies. If you’re flying with a carry-on, make sure to keep airport security guidelines in mind (so no yogurt or other liquidy foods over 3.4 ounces). Carry some yummies in your suitcase (for the trip back) and in your carry-on so you can eat in the airport or while Ubering.
As far as eating out in your destination(s), use a review app like Yelp to find restaurant options in your area; read up on menu items and see what fellow travelers have had to say. That’ll give you a general idea about healthier choices when you’re on the ground.
If you’ll have cell phone service in your destination, you can bookmark your choices via Yelp and use GPS to find them once you get to town. If not, keep a small notebook with the names, addresses, and general menu items that appealed to you.
Also, if you’re headed to another country, make sure you have a translation app like Google Translate or TripLingo (or a book) to help you order food. Practice key phrases ahead of time so you feel comfortable in a restaurant setting.
And remember to save room for champagne and chocolate; a little indulgence never hurt anyone!
When you’re out seeing the sites from sunup to sundown, it can feel impossible to find time to meditate. But SOS Method meditations are just 5 to 11 minutes in length, so you can do your meditation first thing in the morning or when taking a break in the middle of the day when you might need to just Power Up. One way to keep yourself motivated; set a daily alarm on your phone. Then, open the SOS site from your computer or smartphone.
You can also do the SOS Elevate & Energize meditations while walking around or even working out; multi-tasking at its best! Just a few minutes in the morning will set the tone for your whole vacation, keeping you centered, calm, and Powered UP for the duration.
Remember, planning ahead, doing some research, and preparing options in advance will help you keep those healthy habits going strong. Instead of coming home feeling bloated and tired (ugh), you’ll be relaxed, refreshed, and fit! Happy travels!
Did you know that meditation is not just for relaxing or releasing tension – it’s been shown to actually be life-changing. It improves our mental abilities, strengthens our immune function, and helps us become more empathic. But many people find it difficult (if not impossible) to do — so they give up because of the usual complaints – a chatty mind, not enough time, or that it’s boring.
I know this from personal experience. That’s why I was inspired to develop a new technique that could help everyone access that sweet spot of relief and inspiration. Why SOS is meditation reinvented – is that it works – even if the mind isn’t still – and, in only minutes.
People who’ve never meditated or had difficulties meditating, report an ability to deeply relax, access clarity, and a newfound enthusiasm for life. The SOS Method is a comprehensive mindfulness technique that incorporates the latest scientific discoveries along with Eastern holistic knowledge that dates back two millennia.
How Meditation Reduces Stress and Illness
There are extensive bodies of knowledge in Japan, China, and India that have long recognized how stress develops blockage in our cells. When this stress is released or diminished, our body’s natural capacity for self-healing is restored.
Similar to these widely recognized holistic traditions, mindfulness meditation has also been effective in providing stress relief and building resilience. In fact, one large-scale review of 47 different studies showed that meditation can also help with anxiety, depression, and pain.
How Meditation Diminishes Depression & Anxiety
Many people carry a predisposition to anger, anxiety, or depression that’s due to generational stress. In other words, stress or trauma can be passed forward – causing an imbalance in a person’s body chemistry.
This landmark science is known as Epigenetics, and it shows that changes in gene expression can actually be caused by influences other than the underlying DNA sequence. Previously, the DNA sequence was thought to be written in stone — a final determiner of an individual’s traits. But epigenetics has shown that environmental factors such as war, famine, and addiction can translate into symptoms that trigger the epigenome for generations.
SOS Method activates the natural healing potential in the mind and body which helps to diminish the lasting effects of trauma, thereby alleviating these issues.
How Meditation Helps You Find Peace of Mind and Calm
Brain scans show that meditation shifts activity in the prefrontal cortex (behind the forehead) from the right hemisphere to the left. People who are left-prefrontal oriented have more enthusiasm, are more relaxed, and tend to be happier.
96.5% of people report feeling more calm, relaxed and peaceful after only 5 minutes of listening to an SOS meditation. While it’s always nice to spend more time in the healing environment of deep relaxation – it’s helpful to know that in today’s busy world, there are techniques that can help us get there more rapidly.
How Meditation Increases Creativity
Neuroplasticity is a fascinating new area of science that proves our brain can change for the better. Essentially, neuroplasticity shows that neural patterns (previously thought to be fixed) can actually be altered, leading to changed behavior.
In other words, we are not doomed to repeat the same negative patterns throughout life. These habits can change. The key to altering these neural pathways is through changed thought patterns.
Chronic stress locks the brain into automatic response mode, causing the same unproductive actions year after year. Meditation influences our brain physiology; when neural connections are strengthened that support more positive thoughts and behavior – old patterns diminish. A consistent meditation practice helps develop greater mental focus, creativity, and the ability to access inspired solutions.
How Meditation Improves Relationships & Self-Esteem
Hope breathes fresh air into all challenges, from the smallest issue to the largest crisis. It assists in releasing shame, blame, and anger.
Another widely reported benefit from SOS Method is increased hope and optimism. This opens new doorways for more honest and heartfelt communication, which transforms our relationships, and help us approach life with a different perspective, more positive and hopeful.
To learn more about the many beneficial effects of meditation, check out our infographic. Then, experience for yourself what SOS has to offer you.