So, two months ago we got a puppy.

It was a whirlwind decision. He had unexpectedly become available and we had to make a quick decision about whether we wanted him. Because of the circumstances, I didn’t really have time to consider the impact it would have on all our lives. Perhaps not my most sensible idea? But we did it anyway. After all, it’s a great reason to get outside, right?

And yes, if I am honest, the first few weeks were a real challenge. Getting used to having a puppy in the house is like having a newborn baby again. Cute as they are, they need constant time, attention and supervision. You wonder what you used to do with your time before they joined the family. They also grow much faster into ‘toddlerhood’ too. I can’t recall my 12 week old son being able to stand on the kitchen island like my pup recently discovered he could do!

However, the love and attention we were able to bestow on this gorgeous pup outweighed any of the initial challenges and adjustments we had to make.

One of the most unexpected benefits was how much he motivated me. I found myself wanting to get out of the house and go for a walk. Not just a wander down the shops, either, but proper walking out and about, to areas surrounding my home that I had never visited before.

My job is desk-based, which can leave me sitting for long periods if I’m not careful, and for so long now, I have intended to get out and about and walk more. But sometimes the motivation is missing, I’m snowed under with work, it’s raining, there’s too many chores to do, I get distracted or I find another 101 reasons why I can’t leave the house.

However, when those irresistible, big brown eyes stare up at me each morning, all my excuses fade away. ‘Why I can’t’ quickly becomes ‘how long have we got?’ and once everyone’s gone to school and work, I grab his lead and we head off into the fresh air. I’ve got a great reason to get outside now!

Being outside is the best medicine for everyone, regardless of how we are feeling. I find that my days are much more sociable, now, too. Walking my pup initiates conversations with other dog owners, I laugh regularly at his puppy antics and frankly, his love of life. Having him around soothes my mood and gives me back perspective if I am having a challenging day.

Now I am certainly not advocating people go out and get a dog – they are hard work and a real commitment. What I am highlighting is its change on our family dynamics, lifestyle and our happiness levels.

Our dog was simply my motivation to start to enjoy the simple things in life again – find new walks, enjoy more fresh air and escape a sedentary lifestyle. And it’s been such a refreshing change that I would compel you to find your own motivation. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be a dog! Can you think of a reason to spend more time outside, and walk rather than drive? Substituting even just one of your car journeys with a walk can significantly improve your mood – it boosts our brains with serotonin, the feel-good chemical which motivates us into wanting to do more of what feels good. It does, in effect, become an upwards cycle, one small thing leads to another small thing, and so it continues.

If we want to change to how we feel about ourselves, we have to do something about it. These changes won’t happen unless we’re committed to making them happen. So take a small amount of time out of your day  to start a new routine of moving your body, and your life, in a new positive direction.

Clare Cogan is committed to supporting ‘mums on the run’ to find some balance in their lives. Giving them the tools to be calm and in control so they can be the best mum they want to be for their children.

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