How Danica Patrick stays healthy when life gets crazy

December 14, 2015 | by Danica Patrick
I’d like to take a moment to recognize two of my most loyal fans: my fur babies, Dallas and her sister, Ella. No matter what happens on the track, they are always there waiting, super-excited to see me.

We start snuggling or roughhousing and my blood pressure immediately drops.

Animals just have this way with people. They comfort you by resting in your lap, nudging your hand with their furry  heads and falling asleep next to you on the couch.

They probably feel like they’re getting a treat when I pet them, but I’m the one who really benefits.

Research has shown that dog owners are happier, in better physical shape and generally healthier than people who don’t have dogs. They’re good for your physical health and your mental health.

Especially now, in the midst of the crazy holiday season, a pet’s soothing presence is a great stress reliever. They love you no matter what. When you see them, it’s hard not to smile, pet them and play with them. They provide a positive, tension-melting distraction.

Try this: While you walk your dog or settle in for a snuggle session with your cat, check your physical presence. Are your muscles tense? Is your mind racing through a to-do list? Stay in the moment and release the grip that stress has on your body.

Mindfulness is a major stress-buster. Being aware of your emotions throughout the day helps you realize when you’re tapped out. When you’re mindful, you better understand how much you can take on in one day without losing it.

I know exactly how much work I can squeeze into a day before I’m exhausted. If I have to push myself beyond my limit, I take it one step at a time, focusing on what’s in front of me before moving on to the next thing.

Make room in your schedule for me-time. Do a 20-minute workout (take your dog on a nice, brisk walk!), sit down for half an hour to read a book. Block off a couple of hours in the evening and cook a  meal to enjoy with a glass of wine.

If you can’t get to everything – holiday dinner planning, lunch with your best friend, gift shopping, parties and a vet visit for your dog on top of working and shuttling your kids to their activities – guess what? You’re human.

Be kind to yourself! Learn your personal limits and how to say no. Then find your dog and tell her your troubles. I guarantee she will listen to every word

We believe in the healing power of a wet nose. Learn more about animal-assisted therapy at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Are you at risk of developing depression or anxiety? Find out in minutes with our free, online Health Aware tests.

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