The Benefits of Pets for Your Mental Health
© Daoud Abismail
If you ask any pet owner whether they regret having their pet, the answer will be one unanimous ‘no!’ Pets are a great addition to any human’s life, and they can make any day better, especially when you’re feeling down mentally.
Today, we have a pandemic of mental health issues thanks to constant stress, disconnection from people and pressure from society to act one way or another. It’s scientifically proven that animal companions can offer almost the same benefits to mental health as therapy and even medication, depending on the illness.
Here are the six top benefits of pets for anyone who struggles with mental health and general wellbeing.
Pets reduce loneliness
Pets are companion animals that seek closeness to humans. Animals like dogs and cats tend to spend a lot of time with their humans playing, napping, cuddling and going on adventures. If you suffer from isolation and loneliness, it can trigger serious symptoms of mental health issues, especially depression. Having an animal to love and care for will make you feel wanted and needed and occupy your mind so you don’t overthink.
A dog will push you to go out for a walk, spend time in dog parks and even start socializing with people, making many like-minded friends. It’s very common for pet owners to talk to their animals, and seeing a wagging tail or hearing a purring cat when you come home from work is hard to describe.
Pets are great for controlling depression
When you’re feeling depressed, pets can be a wonderful source of closeness, comfort, companionship and motivation to get up and start moving. One of the main benefits of pets is that the owners usually live more balanced and mentally healthier lives without them even trying to do so.
For instance, people with depression often struggle with getting up and going out. Well, with a dog that needs walks and activity, you will get regular exercise outside, which can shower you with sun, fresh air and serotonin. Vitamin D from the sun mixed in with serotonin from exercise can be a great mood booster.
Pets push you to take better care of yourself
People who feel mentally or physically unwell might find it easier to engage in some unhealthy behaviors like sleeping in, skipping meals and avoiding socialization and exercise. But your pet will be there every day to remind you that they want to play, go potty and have a healthy meal. As a responsible owner, you’ll give your cat only the best food or invest in only the best healthy dog treats to provide your pup with vitamins, minerals and plenty of fantastic taste.
If you only choose to give your pet the best food, why not do the same for yourself? Or at least grab a snack while you’re feeding your dog so you have a dinner partner. Pets will get you eating, drinking water, going outside, exercising, playing and relaxing, thus improving your overall health—mental, emotional and physical.
Pets help with anxiety
Did you know that playing with your pet reduces the feelings of stress after just five minutes? Playing and cuddling with pets boost serotonin and dopamine, which make us feel relaxed and calm, just like yoga or meditation.
When you baby-talk to your pet, smile at their shenanigans and pet their soft fur, you’ll feel a flood of happiness hormones and feel-good emotions that kill anxiety and stress. Pets live in the moment and have no worries about what others might think, which can help you become more mindful and appreciative of little things in life.
Pets are beneficial for people with autism and ADHD
Did you know that pets can provide great therapy for those living with autism and ADHD, especially for affected kids? Therapy sessions with pets boost social functions, improve independence and decrease feelings of isolation.
People with ADHD can reap great benefits from owning a pet companion because pets require feeding, walking and grooming, so they are a great way to improve your planning and responsibility skills. Also, going on walks and playing with an energetic animal can help hyperactive kids and adults release excess energy and calm them down.
Pets know how to listen
Pets are great listeners who are always there to hear our problems. Plus, they are often more sensitive to our emotions than other humans. According to research, 50% of adults and 70% of kids and teens who own pets regularly talk to them and tell them their worries, fears and dreams. And we all know that sometimes we just want to be heard without getting any feedback and unwanted advice.
Over to you
If you have any doubts about adopting a pet, hopefully, this text on the cute and playful benefits of pets helped you make the right decision. Once you welcome a pet into your life, you’ll instantly feel more joy, love and purpose, which can be enough to get you out of depression, anxiety and stress.