Everyone loves their pets; they are an integral part of the family, and owning a pet can have many benefits. Not only do these cute and cuddly friends bring a smile to your face, but they also give you a sense of responsibility, show you unconditional love, and are there for you whenever you need them.

Owning a pet can be quite beneficial for your mental health. It can bring positive changes to your mentality and improve your physical health as well.

Therefore, today I will tell you about eight incredible ways your pets and mental health are linked together, so keep reading to learn more.

Taylor is a student and has always been fascinated with pets, cats in particular. Recently, Taylor helped a friend adopt a beautiful Persian cat. To find out more about Taylor’s journey head over to https://obeymycat.com/.

Taylor

Content Contributor

1. Your pets can help relieve stress

These days stress and anxiety have become serious problems. Almost everyone has to deal with high levels of stress, and it can take a toll on our mental and physical health. 

This year has been especially stressful for most. The pandemic has given rise to many tense situations, problems and worries about remote working, learning, finances, job security and more, and affected our relationships, which normally help to give us strength and support.

It is essential to find some stress countering mechanisms these days. Adopting a pet can be an excellent way to alleviate stress and stay more relaxed. Studies regarding the connection between pets and mental health have shown that playing with your pets and petting them can significantly lower stress hormones. 

Even a short five-minute session of playing with your pet can lead to increased levels of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

2. Pets can boost your self-esteem and self-confidence

Owning a pet can also do wonders for your self-esteem and confidence. According to some recent psychological studies conducted at Saint Louis and Miami Universities, pet ownership can have a significant impact on your personality and self-perception. 

The studies showed that people who owned pets had better self-esteem, felt less lonely, were more physically fit, more extroverted and less fearful.

Three studies were conducted at the universities. In the first study, 217 people were interviewed about their emotional well being and personality type. The results showed that people who owned pets were healthier, happier and better adjusted to life. 

In the second study, psychologists examined 56 dog owners’ feelings. Participants reported that their dogs made them feel happier and improved their self-esteem. 

In the last study, the psychologist focused on young people. Ninety-seven undergraduate students participated in the study, and the average age of the group was 19. The researchers found that young adolescents who owned pets were better at dealing with rejection.

3. Emotional support pets can help depression patients

Depression is becoming a more common problem these days, and dealing with it can be very challenging. Depression takes a devastating toll on your life, and it can make you feel awful in every way imaginable. 

Depression causes hopelessness, leads to low self-esteem, and can even promote suicidal thoughts in some people. Though psychotherapy is the only effective way to treat depression completely, there are several other changes that you can make in your life that can aid in recovery from depression.

One of the most effective ways to enhance the recovery process is to adopt an emotional support pet. Most people opt for emotional support dogs because they are intelligent and affectionate. 

These dogs are specially trained not to expect affection from their owners, so even if you are feeling down, these dogs won’t feel lonely. Furthermore, they can sense your mood, and when you are feeling depressed, these dogs will show you affection and help you relax. Spending time with emotional support dogs can increase your self-esteem as well as feel-good hormones in your body, which act as antidepressants and help you stay happier. 

Therefore, if you or anyone around you is prone to depressive episodes, adopting an emotional support pet can aid in their treatment and recovery. 

 

4. Emotional support pets can help depression patients

Pets can have a positive impact on your overall health in several ways. They can help you develop healthy habits that promote your mental health and make you emotionally stronger. 

Pets can help you be more organized and responsible. You have to follow a routine because of them, feed them at the right time, take them for walks, or change their litter box. These routine actions can help you be more organized in your life and be more productive as well. If you struggle with keeping to a routine, it could be worth considering some tech support. Set yourself reminder alarms or consider investing in aids such as an automatic feeder for wet cat food

Pets can also help you be more physically active, as you have to play with them or take them out for walks. Physical activity is essential for your health, and it can have a very positive impact on your mental wellbeing as well. 

Finally, having a pet in the house instills a sense of responsibility in your children too. They learn how to take care of another living creature at an early age, which can help them become more responsible and sensible adults.

5. Pets can help kids overcome childhood anxiety

Childhood anxiety is sadly becoming more prevalent. It can be challenging to treat, and its impacts can last a whole lifetime. However, according to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, pet dogs can protect children from suffering with anxiety. 

Six hundred forty-three children participated in this study, just over half of them had pet dogs in their homes. The researchers measured several factors, including BMI, anxiety levels, physical activity levels and screen time.

BMI, screen time and physical activity were found to be more or less the same across all participating children. However, the children who had pet dogs in their homes showed significantly lower anxiety levels. According to the report, about 21% of children who didn’t have pets in their homes tested positive on an anxiety screening test, whereas only 12% of kids with dogs in their homes tested positive. 

Pets therefore have a positive effect on children’s mental health, and can help them become more emotionally stable and resilient teens and adults. 

6. Pets can help you get away from your screens

Let’s be honest, screen time in most homes is higher than it should be, or than we would ideally like it to be – and that includes both children and adults. In fact, during the Covid pandemic screen time in many households has increased dramatically. 

If you are working or learning remotely, your screen time will have increased as lessons, meetings and lectures have moved online. In your personal live too, socialising with friends and family via video calls has become commonplace; and while this interaction is hugely important for our mental wellbeing, it does mean that in most households, between work, study, socialising and entertainment, we are comfortably racking up 12 to 15 hours in front of a screen – every day.

It is well known that too much time in front of a screen can be very bad for your mental health, not to mention your poor eyesight. 

However, if you have a pet in your home, you and your children will be more motivated to spend some time away from screens, to play with and care for them. In the case of a pet dog, you will also have to engage in regular physical activity in the fresh air, come rain or shine, which has a positive effect on your physical and mental wellbeing. Going for a walk (with or without a pet) is an excellent way to exercise, unwind and relax, and get away from your screens for a little while.

7. Pets can help build relationship skills

Relationship problems are the source of several mental diseases and disorders. They can affect your mood, cause stress, and sometimes even lead to depression. However, having a pet in your home can improve your relationship skills. 

Studies have shown that children who are emotionally attached to their dogs have better relationship building skills when they grow up. This effect is especially prominent with pet dogs, as they can follow human cues, hence supporting the emotional development of children. 

Furthermore, pets can make it easier for kids with social anxiety to interact with others. A recent study examined children with autism. The research introduced a guinea pig in their class and found that the children had an easier time interacting with their peers. The children also smiled more than usual and showed fewer signs of stress. 

8. Pets love us unconditionally

Humans are social beings, and we need to have some level of love and affection in our lives to stay mentally healthy and happy. In our busy modern lives, we typically have fewer social connections than we did just a few decades ago, despite several hundred “friends” on facebook. Many of us live away from our families, we don’t know our neighbours or local communities, and longer working hours dictate that we have less time for social interaction. 

Many people struggle to form meaningful relationships, or get the unconditional love they desire from the people around them. However, to a pet, their owner is their entire life. They are loyal and loving, and can help alleviate feelings of loneliness. Pets can make you feel complete and relaxed, they can even help you manage grief. They will give you unconditional love, even when you find it difficult to love yourself.  

Final thoughts…

Pets are amazing companions. Apart from entertaining you and putting a smile on your face, they can help improve your sense of happiness and wellbeing, and have an actual positive effect on your mental health. 

But before you invite a cute and cuddly companion into your home, consider that a pet is not just for the here and now or an aid to make you feel better. Pets take considerable time and money to look after and care for properly, they have differing needs and can live many years, some may even outlive you. So do your research thoroughly and think beyond lockdown, before you decide to share your home with a pet.

 

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