4 New Year's Resolutions Your Pet Wants You to Make

By Emily Guy Birken on 26 December 2016 0 comments

Making New Year's resolutions feels great, but let's face it — we are terrible at it. According to research by a University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology study, only 8% of people who make New Year's resolutions actually achieve their goals. If you're like most people, your plans to go to the gym four times a week, stop wasting time on Facebook, and organize your entire home are probably going to fizzle before the end of January.

But there is someone in your life who can help you create achievable New Year's resolutions: your pet. What Fido and Fluffy want from you in 2017 are actually things that will help to make your life better. So forget the usual resolutions this year, and make some resolutions that will make your pet (and you!) happy:

1. Go On a Daily 30-Minute Walk

You know that Rover loves going on walks with you, but some days, it's all you can do to walk him around the block to his favorite fire hydrant. Especially in the winter, it can be very easy to hustle through a quick walk in the cold and head back inside to your laptop and Netflix.

But your pooch loves the daily exercise and stimulation that a long walk can offer — even in cold weather — and he's not able to understand your enthusiasm for binge-watching The Crown. A nice long walk is just what he wants, even when you want to curl up with a hot chocolate.

Of course, a daily 30-minute walk is literally just what the doctor ordered for you, too. Not only does a daily walk help you maintain (or lose) weight, but such moderate exercise helps to prevent and reduce the severity of chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. In addition, the exercise and the time outside can both help to improve your mood.

Rather than making a resolution to become a gym rat — and plunking down the gym's hefty joiner's fee and monthly membership fee — resolve to take Rover for a long walk every day, no matter the weather. You'll both be happier for it.

2. Take More Naps

Mittens may act aloof, but there is something she wishes you'd do more of: nap with her. Cats are notorious nappers (and cuddlers), and there is nothing more satisfying than taking a snooze with a purring kitty perched on your belly.

Of course, such naps are going to do more than just make your cat happy. They will also improve your health, your mood, and your level of self-control. According to a 2011 study by the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans are suffering from sleep deprivation. And being sleep deprived means that you are more vulnerable to chronic illnesses and more irritable, not to mention too mentally exhausted to avoid procrastination.

So this year, commit to curling up with your cat and catching 40 winks a couple of times a week. She'll love the closeness, and you'll reap the benefits of being well-rested.

3. Do Less

Having a full social calendar can be tough on your pets. They miss you terribly when you go out in the evening, especially if you are already working long hours. They would love nothing more than to have you home and available for tug-of-war, fetch, or belly rubs most nights.

It turns out that having a wall-to-wall schedule of events in your life isn't so great for you, either. According to Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan, authors of the book Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives, you're likely to make bad decisions if you have too little free time. Here's why: Managing your time is something like packing a suitcase. If you have an empty suitcase (or an empty schedule), it's easy to add something new. But if your suitcase or schedule is full, then you have to decide what to remove in order to add a new commitment, and that can be stressful.

The commitments that are most likely to come out of the "time suitcase" are the ones that don't feel urgent — like your commitment to spend time with your pets. But not only does spending time with your four-footed friends make them happier, it is also a great way to relieve your own stress. It is well documented that interaction with animals reduces tension and improves mood.

That's not to say that you should completely clear your social calendar so you can spend every moment with Buddy and Boots. But if you resolve to do less in 2017, you can take the time to determine whether you really want to say yes to the invitations that come your way. Then you'll only agree to the ones that you really want to do — and make yourself and your pets happier.

4. Clean More

Bandit can't get on his favorite spot on the sofa because the laundry basket is in the way. Cleo's litter box has gotten so ripe she's leaving "gifts" on the floor beside it. They may not be able to tell you in words (although your cat's method of protest can be pretty eloquent), but your pets would love it if your house were a little cleaner.

Tidying up would also offer a big benefit to you. According to Sherrie Bourg Carter, writing for Psychology Today, "Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed." Those piles of clothes and papers overwhelm our senses and make it difficult to truly relax. That can affect everything from your mood to your ability to sleep well at night.

Getting on a cleaning routine this year will not only help your pets to feel comfortable in your home, but it will help you feel better, too. And knowing that you can have unexpected guests drop by without worrying about the pet hair tumbleweed in the living room or the freshness of the litter box is an incredibly freeing sensation.

Listen to Your Pets

Resolutions are often grand promises to ourselves, but making small promises to our pets will actually lead to a better, healthier, and happier year. For 2017, resolve to get more purring and tail wagging from your pets, and you'll also reap the rewards for yourself.

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