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How to Deal With Holiday Stress for You and Your Pets

christmas bulldogs, laying down facing the camera, one dog wearing a Santa hat and the other a red nose and reindeer antlers.

The holiday season may be stressful for you and your pets, but with some preparation and care, you can make it joyful. Changes in routine, environment, and social interactions can affect your pet's well-being and behaviour, as well as your own mental and physical health. Here are some tips on how to cope with holiday stress for you and your pets.


 

Maintain a regular schedule for less holiday stress.


blue book with poop emoji and text todo on the cover

Disruption of regular routines is a leading cause of holiday stress for pets. Pets tend to do better when their routine is consistent and predictable. Therefore, it's vital to maintain their feeding, sleeping, and exercise schedule as closely as possible. Doing so will make them feel more secure and comfortable in their surroundings. If you must leave your furry friends behind while you're away, consider using our in-home sitting service instead of taking them with you or leaving them in a kennel. This will help increase their comfort by keeping them calm where they are familiar.


safe space to get away from the holiday stress.

Similarly, you can benefit from sticking to your regular schedule as much as possible. Following a routine can help you manage your time effectively, prioritize tasks, and prevent you from feeling overburdened. It can help you maintain healthy habits like sufficient sleep, wholesome eating, and exercising regularly. Despite feeling like an outlier, dedicating time to your self-care routine over the holidays can significantly reduce overwhelming feelings, enabling you to participate in celebrations more effectively.


While maintaining a regular schedule is beneficial for both humans and pets, there are some differences in their needs. Humans may have more flexible schedules, while pets thrive on consistency and predictability. For example, cats and dogs require a consistent feeding, sleeping, and exercise schedule to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Disrupting their routine can cause stress and anxiety, leading to behavioural issues. On the other hand, humans may benefit from maintaining a regular schedule to manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and prevent stress and burnout. By sticking to a routine, humans can also support healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly, which can positively impact their mental and physical health. Overall, while the needs of humans and pets may differ, maintaining a regular schedule can help both parties reduce stress and enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.


 

Provide a safe and quiet space.


a quiet bedroom to retreat to when feeling stressed.

Another common source of holiday stress for pets is the influx of visitors and noise. Some pets may enjoy the extra attention and stimulation. Still, others may feel scared, anxious, or overwhelmed by the unfamiliar faces and sounds. To help your pet cope, ensure they have a safe and quiet space to which they can retreat if needed. This could be a crate, a bed, or a room with a door you can close. Please provide them with water, food, toys, and a comfortable resting place. You can also use calming aids, such as pheromone sprays, collars, or diffusers, to help them relax.


stressed out woman

You can also use this space when you need a moment away from the holiday hustle and bustle. Spending time alone can help you recharge your energy, clear your mind, and reduce stress levels. You can also use this time to meditate, read, listen to music, or do any other activity that makes you happy.


It's essential to process your emotions and manage stress, especially during the holiday season. You can take inspiration from your pet's behaviour and use it as an indicator to reflect on your own state. If your pet seems anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, it may be a sign that you must step back and tend to their needs. Similarly, if you feel irritable, tired, or emotional, take a moment to yourself. Showing your pet their safe space can be an acceptable excuse to take a minute. Use this time to breathe deeply, meditate, journal, or do any other activity that helps you relax and recharge. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish; it's necessary for your well-being and that of your pet.


 

Be mindful of your pet's needs and preferences.


cat hiding under a blanket looking out worriedly.

Not all pets are the same, and some may have different needs and preferences regarding holiday activities and interactions. For example, some pets may love wearing festive outfits or accessories, while others may find them uncomfortable or irritating. Some pets enjoy playing with new toys or treats, while others prefer their old favourites. Some pets may be friendly and pleasant, while others may be shy or territorial. Be mindful of your pet's personality and temperament, and respect their boundaries and limits. Please don't force them to do anything they don't want, and don't expose them to anything that might harm or make them unhappy.




older man looking around the corner worried.

When humans and animals are put in an environment where they must interact with each other, but either of them holds fears for the other, the situation may not go as planned. In fact, it can make the experience worse and not better, as we intend. For example, suppose a person is afraid of dogs and is put in a situation where they must interact with one. In that case, their fear may intensify, leading to a negative experience for the person and the dog. Similarly, suppose a dog is afraid of humans and is forced to interact with them. In that case, it may become more fearful and aggressive, leading to a potentially dangerous situation. It's essential to respect the boundaries and fears of humans and animals and avoid situations that may cause harm or distress. Creating a safe and controlled environment for positive interactions and gradual exposure is best to build trust and comfort.


It's essential to be aware of your needs and preferences and communicate them clearly to those around you, such as your family and friends. It's equally important to stand up for your pets' needs and advocate for them if necessary. Don't feel obligated to do anything you're uncomfortable with, and don't let anyone pressure you into doing something that could harm your well-being, happiness, or that of your pets. It's essential to establish healthy boundaries and expectations for ourselves. It's also okay to say "no" when needed.


 

Have fun and enjoy the moment.


black cat playing with christmas ornaments.

The most important thing to remember is that the holiday season should be a fun and enjoyable time, not stress and anxiety. During the holidays, cherish the pleasant moments with your loved ones by creating memories and celebrating traditions. Don't worry too much about the details, the expectations, or the outcomes. Just have fun and enjoy the moment with your pets and your family and friends.


 

Tips for pets



1. Maintain a regular schedule for feeding, sleeping, and exercise.

2. Provide a safe and quiet space for your pet to retreat.

3. Use calming aids like pheromone sprays, collars, or diffusers to help your pet relax.

4. Stick to your pet's diet and avoid giving them table scraps or human food.

5. Make sure that your pet always has access to clean and fresh water.

6. Give your pet attention and playtime to help them feel loved and engaged.

7. Avoid exposing your pet to loud or crowded events that may be overwhelming or stressful.

8. Consider using a pet-sitting service if you must leave your pet behind while away.

9. Use positive reinforcement training techniques to teach your pet how to cope with holiday stressors.

10. Take your pet for a walk or playtime before guests arrive to help them feel calmer and more relaxed.


 

Tips for humans



1. Maintain a regular schedule for sleeping, eating, and exercise.

2. Prioritize self-care activities like meditation, yoga, or a relaxing bath.

3. Take breaks when needed, and don't over-commit to holiday events or activities.

4. Set realistic expectations for yourself and avoid perfectionism.

5. Practice gratitude by focusing on what you're thankful for rather than what's stressing you out.

6. Limit exposure to negative news or social media that can increase stress and anxiety.

7. Seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional if needed.

8. Use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, to manage stress.

9. Take time to engage in activities you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, or watching a movie.

10. Practice mindfulness by staying present and avoiding dwelling on past or future events.


 

Remember, you and your pets are a team, and you can support each other through the holiday stress. Following these tips can make the holiday season happy and healthy for both of you.


Happy holidays! 🎁

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