Last month I talked about starting a mini-series where I would share some of the things I’ve learned from the animals that I work with (especially the things we tend to miss that they really wish we knew). There’s a lot to talk about so let’s dive in and start with one of the easier topics that many of us can relate to.
I call it the whirlwind morning routine. You wake up, feel like you could use another 4 hours of sleep, and begin the day at warp speed. There’s a flurry of coffee, breakfast, showering and checking email. As you scramble to find (clean) clothes, do your hair, and pack your lunch, it feels like time is mocking you until you’re finally out the door. And that’s on a good day. Add kids, a partner, a dog and a cat to the mix and that whirlwind can quickly become a tornado.
So what does this have to do with your dog or cat? Possibly a lot.
Early in my career, when a dog first asked me to tell her person to please slow down, I thought it was an isolated request. Until I was asked again…and again…and again. What both dogs and cats have shared is that many of them feel anxious when we feel panicked and stressed, especially in the morning as it sets the tone for the entire day. It’s hard to feel relaxed around someone who’s not, right? And kind of like smoke, that frenetic morning energy lingers with your companion long after you’ve left the house.
Although finding ways to decelerate is important, it can feel impossible when we live busy lives with lots of responsibilities. It’s not like we’re trying to be rushed. So how do we go about slowing down our morning routines without adding more stress to our already full plates? I’ve got your back.
Three words: small, attainable goals. We have things to do, places to go. I get that. I live that. Mornings can be intense, especially for parents of young children. So rather than wondering how we can go from a level 10 intensity to an unrealistic level 1, I often encourage clients to consider moving from level 10 to level 8. More doable, right?
Sure, you’re still running from the shower to breakfast, but you’ve got a few extra minutes now because you laid out your clothes the night before. And those morning e-mails? No problem. Your new gift to yourself (and your four-legged family member) is that you’re not checking email for the first hour of the day.
Not so bad, right? The idea is that we shift down a gear or two, give ourselves a bit of wiggle room and suddenly we’re a little less rushed. If those changes feel like too much, try making even smaller ones. Choose just one. Pack your lunch the day before. Shower at night. Set your alarm to go off 5 minutes earlier. Choose one thing that works for you and doesn’t feel like too big a deal. And when you’ve got that down pat, consider making just one more small change. I have seen this work with clients again and again. They love the shifts they see in their animals and – added bonus – they have more time to enjoy their morning coffee.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What is your one thing that you’re willing to shift in the morning? Or maybe you’ve already done it and have seen the changes in your dog or cat? Leave me a comment!