Sometimes it can feel that working to protect animals is a never-ending, uphill battle. I know from my own personal experience that there are days when I’ve lost all hope for humanity, and I’m sure I’m not alone! In fact, I’ve known many animal caregivers who are also struggling to find joy and balance in their lives because of what they witness on a daily basis.
The thing is, we can sometimes become so overwhelmed with the negative side of life, that we often lose sight of the many blessings we have been given, such as our health, family and friends, and all the other amazing people out there doing such incredible work for animals.
Gratitude Does a Body (and Mind) Good
One way to combat some of the symptoms of compassion fatigue is by expressing gratitude, especially in written form and on a daily basis. I personally have incorporated this practice into my life, and it has made a difference. But don’t just take my word for it – studies show that showing gratitude has a myriad of positive health benefits, including better sleep, improved mood, increased optimism, and decreased stress.
Many of us will sit down to a Thanksgiving meal this week and give thanks. But why only count our blessings one day out of the year? To get the most benefit from practicing gratitude, make a commitment to write down three things you are grateful for at the end of each and every day. I find that doing so right before I go to bed helps to end even the hardest of days on a positive note.
I recently asked my fellow animal lovers to reflect on some of the good stuff in their lives. Here is what they had to say.
“I am extremely grateful for the health of my extremely beautiful little dog; the same applies to my beautiful mum. Thirdly, I’d have to say…good food!” – Emma Owens, Former Animal Rights Charity Volunteer
“I am grateful for many things, but in particular I feel super lucky to have an assortment of wonderful friends in my life. It’s truly a gift when you meet people who love you for who you are, faults and all. People who make you laugh so hard that you cry are indeed priceless.” – Jenn, Mom to Amelia and Calliope, two phenomenal feline ladies.
“I am grateful for life. Following a very serious accident, a long while ago, I survived to do all I can in the name of animal welfare. The beauty of the natural world…the doctors and nurses of this mad world, and it goes without saying my family too – the reason I am who I am.” – Simon, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Chief Inspector
“I am grateful for my family, who is proud of my service as an animal control officer and supportive in my TNR (trap-neuter-return) efforts for the kitties in the area.” – Leona Pease
“My greatest gratitude is my work with horses!” – Peg Carson
“I am a vet tech in an animal shelter that has been operating since the 1920s. I am grateful for the donations that gave us the opportunity to build a spay/neuter clinic. I am grateful for the wonderful volunteers who come in every single surgery day to assist me and the vet in the clinic. I am grateful for “puppy therapy” days that give everyone a bit of a break from the stress of the field we work in.” – Yvette Marie Hoelle, License Vet Tech
“I am grateful for my house and yard, which provide safe haven for needy animals; my health so I can provide care to others; and my own pet companions, who help me in my missions.” – Sunny Weber, Behaviorist, Speaker, Educator, and Author of Beyond Flight or Fight: A Compassionate Guide for Working with Fearful Dogs
“As a professional pet sitter, I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my client’s pets. Some of them don’t know life without me and that’s a gift. I’m additionally grateful for my husband and my son, who support me in all my endeavors.” – Holly Cook, Pet Sitter and Author of My End of the Leash: Compassion Fatigue From a Pet Sitter’s Perspective.
Finally, here is what I am grateful for in this moment.
“In the wake of all the violence against police officers, I am extremely grateful for all the first responders – cops, EMTs, firefighters, and ACOs – who put their life on the line for us every single day. I am grateful for my human and animal family and friends – you make my life complete and bring light into a dark world. I am grateful for my appreciation of music and nature, my compassionate and highly sensitive personality, and my education. And last but not least, I am crazy-thankful for the invention of Tofurkey and vegan pumpkin pie!” – me