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Having a pet is a great way to boost your health. From a physical standpoint, a pet can be a built-in workout partner, and a great way to stay motivated. But, pets can also do wonders for your mental health. They provide structure to your life, which can be much-needed in today’s ever-changing society.
Pets have been shown to reduce stress, lower rates of depression, and provide happiness through companionship and unconditional love.
If you’ve wanted a pet before but have never gone ahead with it, now is a perfect time. You don’t have to wait until you’re worried about your mental health to take advantage of the benefits they can provide. Instead, consider adopting an animal with nothing but love in mind, and you’ll experience the wonderful rewards they can provide immediately.
Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at how pets can benefit your mental health, so you can decide if ownership is right for you.
They Reduce Stress
To say we live in a stressful world would be an understatement. While some stress can be a good thing, it’s very different when you feel overwhelmed by it. Dogs, in particular, have been known to reduce stress levels in people. Simply petting a dog can help you to feel calmer and less anxious about whatever is happening around you. Dogs can also help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease – not only because they encourage you to get physical.
Studies have shown that owning a dog can reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body. That will immediately make you feel less overwhelmed, and can also improve your gut health as well as your mental health.
Additionally, being around a dog boosts the oxytocin production in your brain. That increase in production helps with things like:
- Feeling happier
- Decreasing fear
- Providing unconditional companionship and love
- Feeling bonded and intimate
Intimacy is important in both human and pet relationships, but it’s not always easy for people who struggle with their mental health. If you’re already dealing with depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition, let’s touch on how your increase in intimacy can help.
They Pull You Out of Struggles
Everything from anxiety to PTSD and OCD can keep you from getting close to people you love. Having a pet can help to break down those intimacy barriers and pull you out of your own mind long enough to strengthen your human relationships.
There’s a reason animal therapy is becoming more popular. Pets do so much more than boost your mood when you’re down or stressed. They can offer therapeutic benefits when you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. They can help you to be more mindful, rather than letting anxious thoughts take over.
Being around a pet can also help you to control your breathing, so you’ll be more likely to take long, deep breaths that can calm you down. Some dogs can even be trained to recognize the signs of an anxiety attack before it actually happens. So, they can “warn” you and work to keep you calm before things spiral out of control.
If you’ve been dealing with mental health issues for a while, talking to a therapist or your doctor should be your first priority. But, you might want to consider how a furry companion would help you to manage your symptoms daily.
They Boost Your Mood
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one major problem for people across the country was isolation and loneliness. Isolation has been linked to serious health issues, including:
- Premature death
- Increased risk of dementia
- Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
That’s one reason why animal shelters were emptying out across the country throughout the pandemic. Yes, people had more time at home. But, they also wanted companionship. Pets can boost your mood and fight off feelings of loneliness by being a constant companion. They give you a sense of security and the knowledge that you have someone to share your day with.
Pets are social creatures, too. It’s not uncommon for a dog to “greet” other people and pets on your daily walk or at the local park. So, you can use them as a way to interact with others and let the feelings of loneliness lift away.
Finally, pets are great listeners. They might not have anything to say back to you, but they offer unconditional love. If you feel isolated or just overwhelmed, simply talking to your pet can put you in a better mood and boost feelings of happiness.
If you want to make your mental health a priority, consider adopting a pet of your own. Even if you’ve never had a pet in your life before, you’ll be amazed at how beneficial they are for your overall well-being, and you’ll have a furry friend to love every single day.