Not only do pets make us happy and give us something to look forward to, they can also help to promote stability, provide companionship and reduce stress.
In this edition of Wellness Matters we decided to pay attention to our furry friends, and explore the mental health benefits our pets afford us every day.
Pets provide a sense of purpose, stability and routine
Healthy routines are a key component of positive mental health. The secret to building a sustainable routine is stability, the ability and willingness to repeat this routine daily until it becomes almost second nature.
The introduction of a pet into anyone’s life has certain responsibilities attached. Pets rely on their owner to ensure they are fed, walked, groomed and shown lots of love! This accountability and responsibility provides the foundations of stability and routine that can work wonders for your mental health.
Pets may help to reduce stress
Pets can help reduce stress in our lives by:
- Encouraging social interaction
- Improving our mood
- Encouraging exercise
- Providing companionship
Walking dogs can provide social support by providing us the opportunity to meet new people and make friends. Having a dog with us can make us more approachable, giving us a reason to stop and talk, increasing the number of people we meet and growing our network of friends.
Furthermore, studies examining social interaction with companion animals have found that touch (i.e. patting your dog or cat) leads to lowered blood pressure
Pets can provide companionship
Animals are incredible companions and offer unwavering support regardless of your mood. The sound of paws pattering on the floor is an instant reminder that you are not alone.
Feelings of isolation or loneliness can negatively impact your long-term mental health, this can be brought on by:
- Living alone or away from family
- Feeling anxious or stressed
- Being unemployed
- Going through a breakup
Fortunately, it has been proven that the affection, attention and acceptance that our pets provide us help to reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Returning home from work after a long day is always better knowing you have a furry friend waiting for you excitedly at home!
Pets may help to improve your fitness
As we discussed in a previous edition of Wellness Matters, physical exercise can greatly improve your mental health. Being active for just 30 minutes a day brings a range of benefits to your physical and mental wellness.
Pets (particularly dogs) require constant play and exercise. Being a good owner involves engaging in games and outdoor physical exercise, which can quickly fill up for daily 30 minute goal! When our pets get exercise, they are more likely to remain healthy, happy, limber and have less behavioural problems (barking, chewing etc.).
Pets can be great for young kids
Having our children grow up with pets has a list of associated benefits.
Pets can help decrease allergies. Dr. June McNicholas from the University of Warwick conducted a study where 138 children were tested for antibodies who either owned or did not own pets. The study found that pet-owning children were able to fend off infection (i.e. colds and flu) better than children without pets, resulting in less days off school.
Animals can help teach responsibility and help with learning. Tasks such as feeding, walking and cleaning up after pets helps teach kids the meaning of responsibility while giving them a sense of achievement.
It’s fun! Whether it is a dog, cat, bird or rabbit, owning an animal brings enjoyment to all households.
We’d love to hear more about your pets and how they help to benefit your mental health! Get in touch with us at email@example.com.