Five Ways Pets can Improve Your Mental Health
Pets are a common fixture in households all over the world. People love to spend a lot of time with their fuzzy friends, but owning a pet also provides a lot of mental health benefits!
1. Lower stress
Multiple studies have shown that interacting with pets raises our levels of serotonin and dopamine, and lowers stress-related hormones as well as blood pressure. This allows you to relax and refocus, boosting your mood. Since these benefits can occur after just five minutes of playing with your pet, doing so can be very helpful for those who suffer from anxiety or depression.
2. Increased overall well-being
Pet ownership also improves well-being in multiple areas, such as increased self-esteem, physical fitness, conscientiousness, and decreased fear. Pets such as dogs encourage owners to exercise by taking them on walks, and playing with them can also release excess energy in children, and relieve tension.
3. Support social connection
Pets counteract social isolation by providing a common topic to talk about, which can greatly help with social anxiety. Talking about your pets can help you connect with other pet owners, and usually leads to an exchange of photos and compliments. Increased social interaction can improve emotional regulation skills, cognitive function, as well as empathy and feelings of trust towards others.
4. Decreased loneliness
Even if you may not be able to go out and interact with others in person, pets can decrease feelings of loneliness by providing unconditional love and companionship. Pets can make us feel needed since the act of taking care of an animal produces various mental health benefits, and pets rely on us to take care of them on a daily basis.
Finally, pets provide readily available comfort. If you are having a bad day, holding or playing with your pet can provide the feeling of support that you need to continue going. Pets also encourage self-care and remind us to live in the moment, which can also help you to allow yourself time to relax and take care of yourself as well.
While pets can be helpful for mental health, support from a clinician can be very beneficial as well. To get in touch with one of our clinicians, click here.