Animals can be a great source of comfort and companionship in our lives. It’s no wonder researchers say that they can also greatly help those suffering from depression or anxiety. Even if you’re not suffering from anxiety or depression, owning a pet has a lot of positive side effects. Here are a few reasons why pet ownership is good for your mental health.
Unconditional love and companionship
Pets are amazing sources of love and companionship. The beauty of cats or dogs is that they love you exactly the way you are. This type of “support” and comfort builds self-confidence in individuals that might be anxious about interacting with the outside world.
Pets promote touch
Have you heard the phrase the healing power of touch? Well, researchers have shown that the amount of physical contact that we have with others – humans or furry friends – decreases our stress levels. Petting an animal can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, not to mention it boosts your dopamine and serotonin levels. Animals love to be scratched, so the amount of touch in your daily life is sure to increase.
Pets can alter our moods
So you come home after a rough day at work, ready to bawl your eyes out... Until your furry little friend excitedly greets you at the door jumping up and down waiting for you to pet them! You can’t help but smile at their reaction to you and – voila! – your mood has shifted. Even though it might not be a drastic change in mood, pets can make a bad day a little bit better, making you feel less alone.
They force you to go outside
If your pet happens to be a dog, generally it will require you to spend time outdoors. Between walks and potty breaks, you’ll end up spending a good chunk of time outside, which is good for mental clarity. Leaving the house can be a difficult task for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety, but the care of a pet comes before your own needs, and sometimes forces you to spend some time outdoors.
Pets make us responsible
It’s no secret that pets are a lot of work, but research shows that this type of responsibility leads to a greater increase in self-worth. We build our self-esteem by taking ownership of a task and applying our skills. So, when you wake up the next morning and your pet is still alive and healthy, this builds your self-esteem. Pets can also make you accountable. The need to be fed or walked at a certain time creates structure that you might be lacking in your life.
Because of these health benefits, The Transition House main office has several dogs residing here. Doctors say that services dogs and animals can help veterans that are suffering from PTSD, which can cause anxiety and depression. Our office dogs are spoiled rotten!
If you think you could benefit from owning a pet, contact your local animal services shelter or humane society and see what kind of animals they have up for adoption. You are not just benefiting yourself when you adopt a pet, you are also saving an animal's life.
Stay on-track with your mental health
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