Cats: the best medicine to beat January’s winter blues and depression
January is the most depressing month of the year. And there’s nothing like a kitty fix to help us beat the winter blues and keep us from falling into the abysmal pit of depression.
Many turn to antidepressants or talk therapy as they enter into the new year, coming down from a holiday high, too many bills from overindulged holiday spending. Add to that, people have come to the stark realization that their hopes of
their New Year’s resolution – whether it be losing weight, quitting smoking, or becoming more organized – have once again gone out the door. Research indicates it only takes six to seven days for New Year’s resolutions to be broken, and be a distant memory in the rear view mirror.
For those of us that live in the northern quadrant of the world, we also have to deal with harsh weather, isolation, and a deprivation of sunlight. Our winter wonderland involves driving through ice storms, shoveling the driveway, and hoping the power stays on so that we don’t freeze to death in the sub-zero temperatures. People go into hibernation mode, counting the days to longer days, warmer temperatures and spring.
All these factors combine to lead more people being depressed in January than any other month.
A couple of weeks ago, Paws saw a newscast citing that the Monday after New Year’s Day, people were more depressed than any other day. Upon more research, we found that there’s a formula developed by Dr. Cliff Arnall (at the time a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, a Further Education centre attached to Cardiff University) stating more people are depressed on the Monday that falls in the last full week of January (sometimes called Blue Monday) than any other day of the year.
Paws mom used to be depressed. But perhaps age, wisdom, and cats have led her to accept life’s ups and downs, and focus on the good, and the positive in life. We do this by controlling our thoughts. And there’s no better way to control our thoughts than to reach out to a peaceful or playful kitty.
Cats are the best depression buster there is.
Less than a month ago, Paws’ mom lost her mom. She’s sad about the loss, but not depressed. As Paws wrote a month ago, when one door closes, another opens.
Here’s a number of reasons why cats (or other pets) battle depression.
- Cats give us unconditional love. They don’t really care if we are 20 pounds overweight, or what our professional or economic status is. They love us humans because we are their human, and no other reason.
- Cats make us be more responsible because we humans need to take care of them. Responsibility gives us humans a more positive focus, a sense of value and importance, and a feeling of being needed. They depend upon us for their basic care.
- Cats make us humans follow a routine. Whether it be feeding the kitties in the morning, scooping the litter box, or having them wake us up at 2 am for an early morning snack or a little attention, their habits force us humans into some sort of routine schedule.
- You are never alone because you have the cat as your companion. Loneliness and isolation are real depression triggers. Many of us spend hours observing, talking to and playing with our pets.
- Fellow cat people, and pet people, love to share stories about their pets, creating a conversation ice breaker and creating more social interaction.
- Cats and pets in general give us humans all the benefits derived from the sense of touch. There’s lots of research that says people feel better and are actually even healthier when they physically touch other humans and pets. Petting a kitty (or two) snuggling in your lap is an ideal de-stressor.
- Cats also give us a focus. When we watch kitty playing, we aren’t thinking about the problems at work or our finances. Our thoughts focus on kitty’s antics. And anyone that has ever gone through talk therapy or read a number of self-help books realizes that controlling your thoughts is key to happiness.
- Cats also teach us to love. In the universe, love is a very powerful, positive force. Love counters hate, as good goes up against evil. Many theologians emphasize spreading good will, loving thy neighbor, and helping others as God’s will. Whatever your spiritual believes, many believe in a higher being, or a higher inner self. Love is a powerful source of connecting. Focusing on the negative, repeating slanderous, bitter words, and hateful thoughts are all counter to connecting with a more peaceful self.
Now this is not to say that if someone is dealing with deep clinical depression, or if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts, that they should not seek out professional help. They may need antidepressants to get through some very tough times. Even so, the addition of a pet in the mix might well be beneficial because their new-found pet companion can become a very good friend in tough times.
Have your cats helped you through difficult times? Does your kitty help you beat depression? Do you think your cat has taught your how to become a better person? Please share your thoughts.