Animal therapy is an increasingly popular activity.
Today, you can do yoga with puppies, visit cat cafes, or arrange donkey visits to care homes – to name a few.
The benefits animals can bring to our wellbeing is well-known and we’re capitalising on this more and more.
But now there’s a new getaway spot in the Lake District to check out.
Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa has launched a new ‘mindfulness with animals’ wellness package for guests, which includes ample animal time.
The venue is all about being at one with nature – as it also offers forest bathing and wild swimming to help people unwind.
Dubbing the experience ‘a real-life Dr Dolittle’, guests are asked to ‘rewild’ themselves and build a deeper sense of connection with the earth.
As part of the package, guests will be able to meet red pandas, lemurs, tapirs, gibbons, alpacas, giant tortoises and more.
A private tour takes place outside of the park’s opening hours for an intimate setting, and the care of the animals is prioritised with no touching involved.
Some of these animals are endangered, so it’s a rare chance to come up close with them.
Jen Grange, a forest bathing guide and mindfulness teacher, says: ‘Spending time with animals has been scientifically proven to increase our wellbeing, making us feel happier, calmer and reducing anxiety levels.
‘On a physical level it can help to increase our immune function, pain levels, lower blood pressure and heart rate.
‘Larger animals like cows, horses and tapirs often have a very calming presence and slow heart rate which helps us to feel relaxed and soothed, while smaller animals like monkeys, goats, meerkats have a more playful energy making us smile and laugh, bringing joy.
‘Often even our domestic pets, like dogs and cats can give great emotional comfort and support.’
Participants will also learn from Lucy Dunn, Lake District Wildlife Park’s education and animal conservation officer, hearing about how the animals are supported.
Guests can then deepen their connection to the animals through a series of mindfulness practices – which involve observing and identifying ‘life lessons’ from them, around being in the present moment.
Jen adds: ‘Allowing ourselves the time to connect with animals on a physical and emotional level allows us to really be in the present moment and leave all our worries behind.
‘My favourite animals to be mindful with (apart from my two collies) are tapirs.
‘Their calm and gentle demeanour and obvious pleasure in being groomed leaves us feeling joyful, grateful and warm inside that you are able to help them feel calm and happy too.’
Prices for the package start from £110 per person.
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