We’re officially in the midst of the winter months, and for many people, that means darker days and colder temperatures. It’s no surprise, then, that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts about 10 million Americans.
The “winter blues” are a very real thing and can cause you to feel depressed, anxious, unmotivated, and fatigued. Unfortunately, your blues could be impacting your four-legged friend, too.
Dogs rely on their owners to stay healthy and happy, and if you’re struggling this winter, your dog could start to feel down too. Thankfully, you can stay more positive by taking care of each other and fighting off the winter blues.
You already know your dog regularly puts you in a better mood, so take advantage of that – and the season – by making the most of the winter together.
Take Your Dog With You
One problem that can fuel the winter blues is isolation. It’s not always easy to get out in the winter and get together with friends, which can increase your risk of feeling depressed. But, your dog needs socialization just as much as you do.
Thankfully, you can improve that interaction for both of you by bringing your dog along wherever you might need to go. You’ll still need to run errands, whether it’s to the grocery store or just to drive around the neighborhood for a change of scenery. Let your furry friend hop in the car with you, as long as you have a large enough vehicle and the right safety precautions in place.
You can also consider bringing your dog to work. More businesses are seeing the benefits of pet-friendly work environments, including:
- Increased productivity
- Reduced stress
- Better morale
- Greater trust and communication
If your workplace allows pets, having your dog by your side can help you to feel supported and calm throughout the day. It can improve your mood and work as an icebreaker to help you talk to co-workers you might not interact with otherwise. Not only is it a great way to improve your socialization, but just having your dog around will make you feel happier and less depressed throughout the day. Make sure your dog is well-behaved enough to come into the office, and bring the right items with you (a food bowl, toy, blanket, water) to keep them comfortable throughout the day.
Spend Time Outside
You can actually combat the winter blues by spending more time outside. Obviously, you’re not going to want to do much in the great outdoors while it’s freezing. But, many parts of the country aren’t that cold in the winter, and with the right preparations, you can enjoy what the season brings and boost your mood at the same time.
Being outside will allow you to experience direct sunlight each day. Even if the sun is hidden behind the clouds, it’s still there, and it can boost your happiness and energy levels.
Try to spend some time being active outdoors as much as possible. You and your dog both still need exercise in the winter, and there are plenty of activities you can do together to take advantage of the season, including:
- Cross-country skiing
- Chopping wood
Even going on hikes together can be a great way to stay active and appreciate the beauty of the season. But, you might have to carry more supplies with you in the winter. You’ll be burning more energy, so it’s crucial to have enough water and food in your pack to keep you both going. Take it easy with your first few hikes, so you can build your stamina and keep yourself and your furry friend safe.
Share Your Hobbies
We’ve already covered the fact that spending time with your dog is a natural way to improve your mood and fight off seasonal depression. So, consider finding more ways to spend extra time with them at home. While sitting on the couch together and watching your favorite show is a start, it’s even more beneficial to do something active and involved with your furry family member.
What are your favorite hobbies, or even something new that you’ve been wanting to try? Think about how you could share that with your canine companion. If you’re musically inclined, play some songs for your pet, or let them sit on the floor next to you while you practice your instrument. Music has calming effects on dogs and can improve their mental well-being.
Do you like cooking? Your dog will probably have no complaints about spending time in the kitchen with you and maybe even working as a taste-tester for your latest dish.
Sharing your hobbies with your dog is a wonderful way to feel less isolated. It will keep you busy and active while giving you something to look forward to.
Some people have a harder time getting through the winter season than others. But, if you have a dog by your side, you can fight the winter blues together. Keep these tips in mind to make it easier on both of you, and enjoy as much of the season as you can.