In December, S and I took Katie to Petsmart to have her groomed. As usual, she shook and cried and barked and was generally pitiful. I apologized as I dropped her off, and one of the employees asked if we took her to dog parks. When we said we hadn’t, she told us that taking a dog to a dog park on at least a semi-regular basis will help the dog to relax. It exposes the dog to other dogs and humans, other sights and sounds, and the dog eventually learns that everything is okay and there is no reason to be so tense.
This last weekend, we took Katie to the dog park for the first time.
She was not sure how she felt about it. She did a lot of barking and a lot of shaking. However, as time went on, she did calm down a little. She stopped shaking, barked less, and began to interact with the other dogs without freaking out or running back to us.
It reminded me a bit of some advice I was given a long time ago.
I don’t remember who said it, but someone told me that the key to helping someone who is experiencing depression is to help them see things outside of themselves. Get them out of the house, show them new things, encourage them to help other people. When they move past the walls – both the physical walls of their house and the walls in their pattern of thinking – they are slowly given a new perspective, and this helps them move toward healing.
I heard this advice years ago, but it has stuck with me, always in the forefront of my mind. It reminded me that depression is limited thinking. With this revelation, when I am unhappy for any stretch of time, it is easy for me to remember those words, to remember that all that is wrong is my perspective.
Keeping an open mind and an open life is a healthy way to live. Exposing ourselves to new things and to things that are beyond us, beyond our problems, helps to keep our perspectives in check.
What are you doing to encourage your mental health?