Sooooo… we’re three months in to living with Rabbit, our Romanian Rescue Dog, and Whoah!!! It’s been….exciting.
This week I had a useful reminder about dealing with stress. It’s a bit of a story, so here’s a video, then come back after and I’ll recap. Click here or the image to watch the video (10mins)
She’s a tinker, our Rabbit, just as we’ll she’s so bloomin’ chilled at home! If you missed the video here’s the recap:
Rabbit decided she fancied another run around with her new bud Henry. So seizing a moment when the human was preoccupied she ventured off. Unfortunately to get to him, there was a road in the way.
Luckily, she’s not as daft as she could be. Instead she just freaked herself out.
Humans and animals share the same stress response:
Stage 1 – Realise the danger
Stage 2 – Fight, Flight or Freeze (Rabbit chose to Freeze, followed up by Flight.)
Stage 3 – Process and Relax.
Ah ha! Did you spot the third stage? How many of Us actually give ourselves time to process the event? Not many.
In our world of push, push, onwards! we forget to take a moment to shake that thing off. This is important.
I’ll say that again THIS IS IMPORTANT – it’s the difference between normalising an experience and allowing it to build up into a fear, an anxiety, even a trauma. Ever wonder where irrational fears come from? Maybe it’s because we didn’t give our bodies a chance to work through the chemical chain of events that happens when our bodies produce adrenaline and cortisol?
Rabbit is now in Flight mode: Tail between her legs; ears facing backwards; tunnel vision and hearing; trying to get the heck out of the woods ASAP. Had I of left her in this state, it’s very possible that our next trip to the woods would have been a disaster.
I hear you ask “What happened next?”
1) First up, I got her a little ways away from the spot where the stress occurred, still close, but ‘safe’. Humans have a tendency to rush on too – we want to get as far away as possible, unfortunately when we do this, we don’t give ourselves the time and space we desperately require.
2) Realising that I was processing a lot of fear (my heart was pumping hard) I slowed my breathing, making sure I brought my breath deep down into my belly – this is an easy way to flick the switch between flight & fight and rest & recover states. I also did this so she would HEAR me relax (she’ll follow my cue)
3) I used some anxiety reducing dog acupressure points that I’d learnt from Amy Snow and Nancy Zidaris. Check out this article. Incidentally, you can use acupressure points for yourself too. I teach these a lot – they’re super effective when we’re clearing old beliefs that have become embedded.
4) I waited for her to come back into her body. When we experience stressful situations we get heightened, our senses head down into a tunnel and our ability to make rational, logical decisions can be impaired. This is where Rabbit was, looking everywhere but at me. Before we took another step, I waited for her to connect back in to me.
Once she was ‘back in the room’ I waited a moment longer before we moved on. This time her tail was high like a flag again and her ears were pointing forwards and it was a calm walk home.
You can see, what happens in dog life isn’t so different from how we respond, right?
As I mentioned earlier, I teach and treat this mind body connection in my coaching sessions. If you’d like to find out more about how working with me can save you from stress and bring you greater fulfilment, let’s have a chat. You can book a call here
Until next time,