Numerous pet owners are usually clear about the happiness that comes with having a pet; however, many of us are still unaware of the physical and, more importantly, mental health benefits that accompany the joy of snuggling up to a furry friend.
Over time, pets have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans’ emotions and behaviors; for example, dogs are capable of understanding the various words we use, and they are even better at interpreting our gestures, body language, and tone of voice. Similar to any good human friend, a loyal dog will be able to gauge your emotional state and try to understand how you feel or what you are thinking.
Pets, especially cats and dogs, are capable of reducing anxiety, depression, stress and encouraging playfulness and exercise while also improving your cardiovascular health. However, it should be understood that pets’ mental health benefits are not only limited to cats and dogs. Pets, in general, provide valuable companionship for older adults. Still, more importantly, a pet can add unconditional love and joy to your life and help us live mentally healthier lives.
Ways Pets Help To Improve Your Mental Health
As earlier implied, pets don’t just make excellent companions, but they are also beneficial for your mental health. Based on comprehensive and extensive research, studies have shown that;
Pets reduce stress
A lot of people experience stress, but research has shown that simply patting a pet will not only help ease stress but is also capable of reducing your blood pressure. You can learn about the perfect pet for you from Animals HQ and find one that instantly relieves you of stress. Even the most basic activity like watching a fish swim in an aquarium can minimize stress while also helping you relax and practice mindfulness.
Pets provide companionship
Pets are known for being loyal, accepting, consistent, affectionate, and honest, so even if you feel isolated, so with a bit of support, a pet can easily help in reducing our loneliness.
Pets fulfill the human need to touch.
A lot of people tend to feel better when they have physical contact with others. Simply snuggling or touching your pet can help to reduce your heart rate.
Pets require routine and organization.
Pets usually require a routine of exercise, cleaning, and feeding. This can provide you with a general sense of purpose and motivation which will, in turn, help your self-esteem, well-being, and, more importantly, mental health.
Pets increase your social interaction.
In reality, pets help in creating opportunities for better social interaction, especially if you attend pet shows or belong to an animal club. Attending pet-friendly events, parks or beaches can also aid in increasing your social network. You could easily meet new people and make new friends when you take your dog for a walk, or you are at the vet due to similar and shared interests in your pets.
Pets improve your fitness (dog owners)
If you are a dog owner, your dog will also require regular walks, and this exercise can be beneficial for you. Exercise like walking provides numerous benefits for not just your well-being but also your mental health. You can use the opportunity to walk your dog to improve your fitness while also taking advantage of the outdoors to further develop mindfulness and relaxation.
Pets generally offer distraction.
A major issue with mental illness is that many people who suffer from it usually turn inward and become obsessed with constant suicidal or negative thoughts. Pets generally help bring their loved ones and owners into the present moment, similar to how practicing mindfulness helps encourage and awareness of ones surrounding environment.
Pets provide a sense of purpose.
A pet is also capable of providing you with a sense of purpose which aids in improving mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Having a pet is a reminder that you are not alone and responsible for their well-being.
Pets provide perceived protection.
For a person who suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress disorder) or experiences bouts of paranoia, a pet, in this case, can serve as a safety blanket that protects against potential threats or dangers, be it real or imagined, even if the protection is in the form of sounding an alarm when there is a fire or an intruder. This usually helps an anxious person sleep better at night.
In summary, the physical and mental benefits of owning a pet cannot be over-emphasized as both adults and children can gain from having pets as it generally helps provide a source of relaxation and calmness while also serving as a means of stimulation for the human brain and body.