Animals are well known to be a calming influence but if you are recovering from an eating disorder there are additional benefits too. The journey of recovery isn’t always easy, in fact sometimes it is positively difficult, however dogs offer a great way to overcome some of those hurdles.
I was prompted to write this article as I have just got my second dog in recovery. Both of them are miracles because I had such a strong fear of dogs, that nobody would believe I had actually got a dog. Three years on, I am grateful for facing that fear, for having time alone on my dog walks and a loyal companion who loves to be hugged. Here are some of the reasons that dogs will help you in recovery.
My new puppy Daisy
1. Unconditional Love
Dogs love you for who you are. They are loyal and trustworthy friends who never fail to be waiting eagerly to greet you. They do not judge, criticize or start an argument. All they ask for is to be treated well and they will love you forever.
If you have received conditional love in the past, a dog is a great way to start rebuilding your trust so that you find unconditional love really is possible.
2. Stress reducers
It is well known that animals reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Most dogs will sit for ages letting you stroke them. You can talk freely to them and let your barriers down, allowing your true character to shine through. You can drop the different masks you use for the rest of the world and find a great reason to play with them. If you have a small dog or puppy you can sit with them on your lap for ages. The stress seems to melt away and your mind is occupied.
3. Exercise companions
You don’t need to rely on anyone else to join you for a walk around the park, you have a built in exercise companion who is ready to join you whenever you want. On the days that you can’t be bothered they are a great motivator as you know that part of looking after a dog means taking them for a walk. Do make sure that the dog matches your exercise criteria as it is unfair to either under or over exercise a dog!
Exhausted after exercising
4. Great Companions
Are you feeling incredibly lonely? A dog helps to fill those long lonely days where recovery seems like such hard work. You always have someone to talk to, can find an excuse to make a sudden exit from the house and venture out into new places, meeting new people. It’s amazing how many people suddenly stop to talk to you when you have a dog. I know lots of people who use their dog as a great excuse to exit family situations they can’t cope with, or to walk off their sudden anger.
5. Facing fears
Are you frightened of dogs? The truth is that I was but 5 years into recovery I faced my fear and to every-one’s amazement not only agreed to getting a puppy but became it main carer! In recovery you will have many fears to face.
Daisy & Jake – best of friends
A word of warning
It is important to not rush out impulsively and buy a dog just because there are benefits to your recovery. Before you make any decision you must think about:-
* Can you afford a dog for life
* Are you around to care for the dog
* Who would look after the dog when you go away
* Do you have young children? Not all breeds are suitable to be around children.
* What type of dog breed would suit your needs