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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

On Stress, The Wolf, and Walking

Jean Sexton muses:

I tend to be a worrier. My mother always says that if I didn't have something to worry about, I'd worry about having nothing to worry about. I know that worrying causes stress and stress isn't good for me, so now I also worry about worrying. While my blood pressure is low enough that I don't worry about high blood pressure (in fact, if it is anything, it is too low -- oh no! another thing to worry about) what I do is stress eat and that is certainly not good for me. So I am trying to reduce the amount of worry and stress in my life.

The Wolf helps with that. While sometimes he is a source of worry (mostly when his little tummy gets upset and he's sick), mostly he helps cut down on my stress. How can I worry when he's inviting me to get down on the floor and play with him? And patting his soft fur is really relaxing. When he ferociously attacks a toy and shakes it to death, I can't help but laugh. Then there are the times when he gets the "zoomies" and charges madly through the apartment, ending up panting in front of me, a doggy grin on his face.

One of my doctors told me that the best way to deal with stress is to walk it out. The most important way that Wolf helps with stress is by encouraging me to do that walking. If we follow a set pattern around and through the apartment complex, it is about three-quarters of a mile. The walk to the mailbox and back is two-tenths of a mile on the direct route and a quarter mile if we take the long way. There's a square of apartment buildings that is about a tenth of a mile to walk around. And Wolf knows all those paths. At night, he'll tell me he absolutely, positively must go on a walk right now. So, what do I do? Walk him, of course!

If it is cool enough, we go on our "long walk" of three-quarters of a mile, Wolf trotting out so that he has plenty of time to stop and sniff anything important while I catch up and pass him. Anytime I want to take a shortcut, I look at him trotting along on his short legs and wearing his fur coat. I tell myself if Wolf can do it, I can do it. There's one place that sometimes I am sorely tempted to head home at times. By the time I reach that point, Wolf has whipped around the corner and is headed out on the last leg of the long walk. At that point, I sigh and I go with him.

The end result is that I'm slowly building up stamina. In January, I started by not being able to do much other than go around my building dragging my oxygen and being unassisted by a walker. I increased to two buildings, and then three, finally losing the oxygen. I managed to walk the tenth of a mile to the mailbox and back, but was exhausted for the rest of the day. Now Wolf and I do that for our morning walks on nice days and I don't notice it much.

I suddenly realized I wasn't tired after our long walk when Wolf tricked me. He insisted on a long walk and took a shortcut across a U-shaped part of our walk. I thought "My goodness!" and walked with him. I knew I wouldn't be tired with a shorter walk. However, when we got to our door's walkway, he kept going! We walked around the square of four buildings -- twice as long as the omitted parts of the "U." When we got back to the apartment, I wasn't tired. My blood pressure was a little high for me, but didn't even count as high blood pressure. So walking out stress has helped both my physical and mental health.

With any luck I'll be around for a long time, bringing you more news about the Star Fleet Universe.