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The Pros and Cons of Getting a Pet

The Pros and Cons of Getting a Pet

Getting a pet is no easy decision. Emotional perks are undeniable, yet pets require time, understanding, and training. Particularly if you have kids, it can be difficult to gauge when you are ready for a pet. We all want a cuddly, warm friend to come home too, but responsibilities and costs required to properly take care of your pets are real. Carefully considering the consequences of welcoming a new pet into your home can make all the difference in keeping your pet safe and happy (and keeping you sane). While drawbacks to having a pet may be challenging, if you properly prepare, getting a pet can be a smooth experience. The following pro and cons of having a pet will help you decide if you are ready to rise to the occasion.

Pros:

1. Increased Personal Safety

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    One definite positive to having a pet unfortunately only applies to larger, free roaming pets. Mainly in the case of dogs, pets can bring a degree of safety to your life. A barking dog scares away most home invaders, and medium to large sized dogs provide security on late night walks. However, even smaller dogs, cats, and exotics have alerted their owners to approaching dangers like fire or gas leaks. When considering whether or not to get a pet, don’t forget that your new family member could be a crucial element in keeping you safe.

    2. Receiving Love 

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      No matter what kind of pet you get, you are sure to experience increased joy and love. Pets have a way of calming us down, and playing our heartstrings in a way that nothing else can. Pets can do a lot for helping you out of slumps and turning around a bad day.

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      3. Learning Patience 

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        Particularly when it comes to younger pet owners, having a pet can teach us valuable lessons. Training your pet can be a lesson in patience, while treating your pet well can help children learn how to be gentle and understanding. 

        4. Pets Empathize with You 

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          Another positive to getting a pet is having a family member who will always empathize with you. Regardless of what pet you get, most larger pets can sense when we are feeling under the weather or have had a bad day. Having something to cuddle with that genuinely cares that you feel better is a huge boost on those less than perfect days.

          5. Improved Mental Health

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            Having a pet is also a powerful way to keep yourself mentally functional. Across the board, pets of all types have proven to improve the health of patients with mental health challenges. From treating those with post traumatic stress disorder, to helping those who struggle with depression, pets are a helpful addition to combat a range of disorders. Not only do these findings bring hope to those with health challenges, it also means that every day anxiety and stress can be greatly decreased by spending time with your pet.

            6. Saving an Animal from a Shelter

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                Finally, another major positive if you’re looking at adopting a shelter pet is the knowledge that you saved a life. Dogs, cats, and other animals in animal shelters are usually tame, and sometimes even trained. By adopting an animal thats been abandoned, you are giving a good home to a living thing, plus making room at overcrowded shelters. Unsurprisingly, pet owners who adopt animals from shelters often speak to the animals undying loyalty and joy at being adopted.

                Cons:

                1. Responsibility

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                  One drawback of getting a pet is an immediate increase in responsibility. Just like a young child, pets rely on you for absolutely everything. Not only that, if they have yet to be trained, they won’t understand your anger if they do something wrong. If you are someone with an over scheduled life, or doubt your children’s ability to step up to this responsibility, a small pet like a hamster or mouse might be a better first step.

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                  2. Allergies

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                    Another drawback to pets in the home are allergies. Especially if you don’t know what you’re allergic to, bringing a cat or a dog into your life can bring unexpected hurdles. Keep in mind that allergies grow worse each time you are exposed to an allergen, so spending limited time with animals in the past is not conclusive proof you aren’t allergic. If you’re unsure of your animal allergies, pet sitting for a friend or spending time volunteering for an animal shelter might be something you want to try first.

                    3. Possible Safety Hazards

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                      Another important consideration when getting a pet is whether or not the animal in question brings more hazards to your life. A pet might be a fine addition for families with young kids, however a large breed of dog for example, will require extra attention and training to make sure it is safe around children. Similarly, aggressive types of snakes or territorial pets may not be the best addition if you have dependents living with you. It is important to consider the needs of everyone in your house before getting a pet.

                      4. Cost

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                        Unfortunately, another drawback to having pets is a necessary evil. Just like humans, animals need to be healthy and happy. Before you get a pet, consider the average yearly veterinary cost of owning the type of animal you are looking at. Cats and dogs for example, require several different shots throughout their first year of life, as well as preventative shots and treatment throughout their lives. Additionally, outdoor pets are more prone to infections, lacerations and pest infestations that require veterinary care. Even if your animal never has a major accident, every animal will require you to pay for basic veterinary care to have a healthy and fulfilled life.

                        5. Poop

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                          There’s no getting around it – no matter what kind of animal you get, you will be required to clean up after them. Make sure you have a solid stomach when it comes to removing poop if you want a positive pet experience.

                          6. Schedule Disorder

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                              Finally, remember that bringing a pet home means you will sometimes be at the mercy of their schedule. Cats for example, are naturally nocturnal, and are likely to find their way on top of you while you try to sleep. Similarly, dogs, birds, and many exotic animals will sometimes feel the need to make as much noise as possible in the middle of the night. Be prepared to take on these challenges when you decide it’s time for a pet, and your transition into pet ownership will be much smoother.

                              Featured photo credit: raneko via flickr.com

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                              Published on November 14, 2018

                              Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                              Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                              With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                              For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                              In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                              Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                              Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                              It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                              For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                              Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                              Symptoms of Fatigue

                              Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                              • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                              • mental blocks
                              • lack of motivation
                              • headache
                              • dizziness
                              • muscle weakness
                              • slowed reflexes and responses
                              • impaired decision-making and judgement
                              • moodiness, such as irritability
                              • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                              • reduced immune system function
                              • blurry vision
                              • short-term memory problems
                              • poor concentration
                              • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                              Causes of Fatigue

                              The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                              • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                              • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                              • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                              • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                              Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                              Medical Causes of Fatigue

                              If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                              Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                              Anemia

                              Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                              Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                              There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                              Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                              Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                              This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                              Diabetes

                              Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                              Sleep Apnea

                              Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                              Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                              Thyroid disease

                              An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                              Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                              • Lack of sleep
                              • Too much sleep 
                              • Alcohol and drugs 
                              • Sleep disturbances 
                              • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                              • Poor diet 

                              Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                              • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                              • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                              • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                              • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                              Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                              Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                              • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                              • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                              • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                              How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                              Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                              1. Tell The Truth

                              Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                              To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                              Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                              The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                              One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                              • How you feel
                              • What time of day it is
                              • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                              • How your mind and body reacts

                              This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                              2. Reduce Your Commitments

                              When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                              If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                              When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                              Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                              3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                              If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                              Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                              If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                              Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                              Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                              4. Express More Gratitude

                              Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                              It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                              Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                              5. Focus On Yourself

                              Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                              There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                              But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                              We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                              6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                              Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                              Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                              The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                              Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                              7. Take a Power Nap

                              When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                              Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                              This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                              8. Take More Exercise

                              The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                              Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                              The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                              You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                              9. Get More Quality Sleep

                              To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                              Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                              My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                              10. Improve Your Diet

                              Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                              Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                              On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                              To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                              Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                              Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                              11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                              Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                              When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                              Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                              My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                              12. Get Hydrated

                              Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                              Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                              If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                              The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                              The Bottom Line

                              These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                              If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                              Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                              Reference

                              [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                              [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                              [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                              [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                              [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                              [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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