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Stress Awareness Month: Expert Tips for Managing Stress in People and Pets

Yasmin El-Saie

In April, as Stress Awareness Month unfolds, Sustain Health speaks with Yasmin El-Saie, a renowned Holistic Practitioner, Yoga Teacher, and holistic Canine Anxiety Expert.

With her multifaceted expertise, Yasmin emphasises the interconnectedness between human and animal well-being, offering holistic approaches to alleviate stress in both realms.

Through her expertise in yoga and holistic practices, she advocates for a balanced lifestyle that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit of individuals and their furry companions.

Managing Human & Canine Stress

Stress has become the world’s third-largest health concern, and it doesn’t stop with us humans, our canine companions feel it too.

A third of the population in recent studies can’t cope with their lives due to stress.

The RSPCA’s research shows that 8 out of 10 dogs suffer from stress when they are left alone. So what can we do to feel more relaxed and calm?

Top tips for humans:

  1. It’s all about the breath!

Breath is life. And the quality of our breath dictates our mental and physical well-being. Shallow, quick breathing activates our fight or flight mode and our body remains in high alert all of the time, aka stress.

Deep slow breathing activates our rest and digest mode, our cortisol levels come down and we begin to relax.

We can practise various breathing exercises, or pranayama, such as Nadi Sudi (alternate nostril breathing) or Dirga Swasam Pranayam (Yogic three-part breath). 

  1. Exercise

Exercise creates a boost in endorphins: our bodies can produce more feel-good neurotransmitters, impacting on how we feel and reducing stress.

Aerobic exercise is a great place to start. Perhaps you like a gentle jog or prefer the high-energy music at a Zumba class.

It really doesn’t matter what you try, just enjoy it and see how you feel afterwards.

  1. Meditation
Yasmin El-Saie

Meditation is one of the most life-changing experiences a person can have.

Every time we sit in stillness we have the opportunity to leave all of our worldly worries, matters and thoughts behind, and experience something bigger: inner peace.

One simple yet powerful meditation practice is Tratak, where you sit and fixate your gaze on an object, my favourite is a candle.

The simple act of gazing at a fixed point removes disturbances of the mind, reducing stress, anxiety and helping to create space and calm.

  1. Yoga

A yoga practice is transformational. Yoga releases tension, stress and trauma from your body whilst strengthening the muscles and balancing the endocrine system.

Any form of yoga, as long as you practise a proper sequence will help reduce stress. 

Top tips for our dogs:

  1. Feelings

Dogs pick up on our feelings so be aware of yourself!

For example, if we are getting ready to leave home, and we’re feeling guilty for leaving our dog at home, or we are late for work, or we are rushing, our actions and body language can become frantic and our canine companions pick up on this.

So they feel there is something to be stressed about and suddenly the simple act of you leaving home becomes a traumatic experience for them.

It is so important to be cool, and act like it’s the most natural thing for you to gently leave home without the kerfuffle, telling your dog it’s ok.

  1. Environmental awareness.

Some dogs find certain situations very stressful so don’t keep placing your dog in them.

For example, some dogs find a noisy pub too much. Or perhaps a certain park with dogs that are challenging for your pooch to be around.

Try to avoid these locations, sometimes it’s better to either go somewhere else or let your dog relax at home, where they feel safe.

  1. Reducing Stress

Get your dog a “licking toy”! There are some cool toys out there that you can fill with a delicious dog paste or little mats with perforations where you can apply the paste.

Your dog will spend a long time trying to lick the treat out of the toy. What’s the benefit? Licking reduces stress levels in dogs.

  1. Calm

Get a pheromone collar or diffuser. These are a great way to create calm and reduce stress for your dog.

The products release feel-good chemicals which calm your dog. The plug-in is great for areas in your home where your dog gets extra stressed and the collar can be worn at all times.

Follow @chilliwawa for more tips