The Overwhelmed Pet Owner’s Survival Guide

stressed catIn today’s culture and high tech society, you hear a lot about people who are overwhelmed. What does that mean, exactly and how can we work through and survive the detrimental effects? According to Merriam-Webster online - “Overwhelm” is defined as “Upset or Overthrow, To cover over completely, to overcome by superior forces or numbers, to overpower in thought or feeling”. When people talk about feeling overwhelmed - they usually describe a feeling of helplessness, that there is too much of everything else and too little of them. As business people/entrepreneurs this feeling can add up and result in compounding our feelings of being stressed out (irritability, being tired, feeling helpless or there is no light at the end of the tunnel).

Lots of times we can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices to be made around a task. Take the travel industry for example. If you were to travel to Disney world - there are a variety of ways to get there, where to stay, and what to do and for how much. In this situation, a person new to traveling would be concerned about making the right decision so that they don’t pay too much and they have a great time.  For the pet industry, there are more choices out there than ever before in terms of food, products, training, treats and equipment. Some of that information is conflicting - some isn’t.

After a particularly stressful day at work - you come home to another mountain of things to do and if you are a pet owner - your beloved animal companion greets you enthusiastically and wants all of your attention. Which adds to a person’s level of stress and feeling of overwhelm - especially if the pet is destructive in some manner.

So what is the stressed out, overwhelmed pet owner to do?

You don’t have to go far to see the first recommendation in combating overwhelm is self care. Self care can be a variety of things. This can be going for a walk, unplugging for a time, going for a massage, playing a game - anything that focuses on your relaxation. Our pets want us and they want to be with us - 100%. They want to play, walk, be active and experience the world with us. For some animals - cuddling and having a peaceful moment on the couch is enough for them (I call those “Nescafe” moments based off of the commercial for the product that shows two ladies reminiscing fondly about a fun time from their past).

Always remember to BREATHE! How many people take this basic but critical step for granted? Breathing! If you feel irritated or overly angry and stressed - remember to take a deep breath or three. That simple, yet effective act is critical in relaxing the body and in a way “resets” your emotional state to a degree. Don’t believe me? TRY IT!

Get an outside perspective. Talk to someone you know who isn’t in your industry - or someone who you trust. If you don’t have someone you can talk to - then start talking out loud or journal about it. The more you can off load the tension in some manner - the healthier and better you can be. When you are more relaxed and not as stressed out - then you can be 100% involved and attentive to your animal companions (which is what they want).

Through all of this - it is very important to take care of YOU. Because no one else will. We are the experts in ourselves - so we are the only ones who can truly take care of ourselves in a way that is meaningful and effective. What will work for one person, may not work for another. The key element is to get away from the stressors in our lives for a time. How many people do you know you turn their phones off or put them away during dinner? Or before bed? How many people do you know who take some time to read a book that is not industry specific?

There are a lot of resources available that can help guide you to a method that can work for you to decompress and not feel quite so overwhelmed and stressed out. This will lead to a happier you which your animals and everyone around you will appreciate.