How to Look after YOU while dealing with a sick pet
If you are dealing with a sick pet then there is a real chance you might be becoming stressed, depressed, anxious or even angry. All of these will affect YOUR quality of life so it is important you look after YOU! The syndrome known as "caregiver burden" is well recognized in people who care for chronically ill family members, but it has only more recently been recognized in owners who have to look after sick pets.
This highlights just how important our dogs and cats are in our lives. They really are part of the family. This is something that I feel very strongly about and I believe in helping both you and your pet to live healthier happier lives.
I invited Chris over from the YouTube channel The Rewired Soul to come and give you three tips to help improve your mental health when dealing with a sick pet. Chris is an expert when it comes to explaining mental health problems in a simple and really understandable way and he's just passionate about helping people and focusing on practical solutions to any mental health issue. So quite apart from caregiver burden, if you have any form of mental health struggle or if you know someone who does then you really owe it to yourself to check out his channel which you can find here.
Lets get stuck into his 3 tips to help you cope with looking after a sick pet.
When you understand more about the health of your pet it helps calm down some of your depression and anxiety when you're dealing with a sick pet
Tip number one is self-care. There's a reason why when you're on a plane they say put your oxygen mask on first before you help somebody else. When we don't help ourselves we can't help anybody, or any pet, that we love and care about.
So the very first tip is making sure that your mental health is in order. If you want to be there for your dog or cat you have to make sure that you're in a good place. If you're running around all anxious or depressed, or can't get out of bed because you have a sick animal, how are you supposed to help your sick pet?
One of the best tips I can give you for self-care is to remember that your emotions come from a very good place. You wouldn't be feeling sad, you wouldn't be feeling anxious, you wouldn't be feeling worried about your pet unless it was coming from a place of love. Always remember that the source of the emotions that you're feeling are genuinely coming from a good place and that'll help you cut yourself some slack. This will help to put you in a better place to take care of your pet.
Don't sweat what you can't control
Tip number two is recognizing the difference between what you can and can't control. Anxiety feeds off of a lack of control. So when you feel like you're not in control, that's when the part of your brain called the amygdala runs haywire. This triggers a hormone called cortisol which increases anxiety and stress.
One of the ways that you can start managing your anxiety when dealing with a sick pet is really start to dissect what you can and can't control. Unless you're a vet, chances are that you cannot control the care for your pet in certain aspects. In this instance, making sure that you have a vet that you can trust is so important. Someone who you can reach out to and ask for advice or support.
Remember that there's only so much that you can control. You can control the love, attention and affection that you give to your pet. Once you take your pet to a vet and you get medicine these are things that you can control. Making sure that your pet is getting its medicine on time and you're taking the advice of the vet. Looking after your pets everyday needs. Food, water, comfortable bedding and temperature.
When you help your brain separate the difference between what you can and cannot control it really starts to reduce your anxiety so you can take care of your pet better.
Join a community
The third and final tip is join a community (and if you're here for the first time I'd love for you to join the Our Pets Health community!). This is a community of people who are potentially dealing with the same issues you're dealing with when you're dealing with a sick pet.
The other thing that I always recommend to people for their mental health is Facebook groups. Facebook is a great social media platform to meet with other people. One of the biggest triggers for depression is this feeling of loneliness and alone. We feel like nobody else is dealing with our struggle. When that struggle is shared among a community of people you start to see first off that you're not alone.
You also start to receive support. You'll start to meet other people who have been through what you're going through and teach you about how they got through it. They'll be there for you but the best part about it too is you have some people who you can celebrate the successes with. When your pet heals, when they get better, you have a community of people who are going to join with you in that celebratory fashion.
Let your vet know
I'd also add that if you're feeling overwhelmed, if you're struggling to treat your pet, if you've become confused with what's going on, or if you're just finding all too much then make sure you reach out to your vet and let them know. As a vet I can only know if one of my clients is struggling if they let me know. Please don't be embarrassed or shy. We all just want to help and come up with strategies that work for everybody.
I hope these tips from Chris help you feel like you can manage and cope with having a sick pet to care for. Recognizing there is a problem and understanding why you are feeling the way you do is the first step. Implementing these tips is the next, and will help you look after your sick dog or cat in a much better, healthier way.
If you're struggling with depression or anxiety, you can also try online therapy: https://tryonlinetherapy.com/rewiredsoul
Make sure you head over to The Rewired Soul to check out Chris' other mental health advice (if you're on instagram then you should definitely follow him there as well!). At the time of writing he has over 200 videos and he is as prolific as he is passionate. Chances are, there are several videos will help you, whatever your mental health struggle. (I've also done a guest video on impostor syndrome and helping reduce your pets stress levels!)
Our Pets Health: because they're family