Emotional Support System
I recently read an online article about airline passengers who travel with emotional support animals. These animals can be both emotional support animals and/or service animals. Many other passengers are outraged when they are on the same plane as these so-called emotional support animals, which can range from a small dog or cat, to ponies. JetBlue is one of the most recent airlines to update their emotional support animal policies to require important flying documents are filed 48 hours prior to flying (Smith, 2018). I am not known to be the one to travel with my pets, even thought my dogs are my babies, but that does not mean I do not understand why people travel with their emotional support pets.
I am not a huge traveler, and when I do travel, I find a puppy-sitter to come check on my dogs when I'm gone. I miss them every moment of each day I am away from them. Even without the stress of traveling, there are many times when I feel emotionally supported by my dogs. Let's face it, I love my little fur babies. They make me smile, laugh and feel better overall. Here are a couple videos of our dogs being dogs.
So, why did I decide to write about emotional support this week? I think emotional support is something that every single human being needs. My husband is a woodland firefighter, and this year's fire season seemed to have started much earlier than last year. In other words, he has been away from home for more than six weeks at the time of this writing. There will come a time in everyone's life when there is the need for emotional support, and this support can come from a variety of places.
Psychology Today has many great tips to get emotional support (Goldsmith, 2011). This article gave great tips to increase the support you can get emotionally from a friend, a spouse, and in my opinion, your fur-baby. My husband has always been and continues to be my favorite place to seek out emotional support. However, since my husband works out of town for long periods of time, I have had to rely on my extended emotional network.
Some people rely on constant touch and small gifts from their emotional network, such as from a partner. Well, when your partner is gone for long periods of time (I am speaking to many of my fellow fire wives), you have to get creative to maintain emotional sanity. Here are some of the tips and habits I have developed over the last several weeks.
1) Fur babies. My dogs make me smile and laugh nonstop. There is the occasional moment where the puppy is just being a puppy and I want to strangle her (not really, but emotions definitely run high when I have to replace drip line for the hundredth time or fill in a hole dug in my grass). Between my eight-year-old lab/shar-pei mix and the terrier mix puppy, I am entertained for the majority of the time.
2) Actual adult interaction. As I take my staycation and my husband is still gone working hard, I started inviting adults over for some real conversation. It's difficult to stay emotionally stable when the only conversations I have are with the dogs.
3) Find something crafty or something to challenge the brain. In this house, jigsaw puzzles have become quite an obsession if not an addiction. Being able work the brain in different ways through a challenging puzzle and talk with other adults really helps.
4) Communicate with my spouse. Even though my husband often works out of the county with little cell service, we always find time to text good morning and good night and, of course, an 'I love you'. I love being able to stay in touch with him as much as possible, even over a quick text.
5) Watch positive television or movies. There are a lot of dramas, scary, and less than funny television series and movies out there. I prefer to keep my emotional happy bank as full as possible. Watching movies or shows with intense emotional conflict doesn't necessarily work with me. In fact, if I have the choice to watch a rerun or a movie I have seen dozens of times that makes me laugh or happy, I chose the rerun again and again to keep me in the positive emotional state.
6) Comfort food. Comfort food does not have to be fatty foods or foods full of carbs. Try a family recipe that brings back memories from your childhood or a happy memory from a previous gathering.
Wherever or however you get your emotional support, it is important to follow your feelings for happiness. Don't get sucked into drama, bad food, and mindless television binging.
In conclusion, I like good, real food, my fur babies, my friends and family, and a loving text from my husband, and I am instantly feeling better. Once you have found that emotional state of peace, it is easier to stay there. And finally, you can then spread more joy and emotional support once you yourself have filled up your emotional chalice.
Blessings to all of you.