How Do Pets Support And Improve Your Mental Health?

Pets Support And Improve Your Mental HealthYour mental well-being is important as it affects how you think, handle stress, interact with others, and make healthy decisions. However, several factors can negatively impact your mental health, causing various issues. According to research by John Hopkins, 1 in 4 Americans of 18 and above suffer from a diagnosed mental health issue each year.

In finding ways of resolving your mental health issues, one thing you should consider is getting a pet. Studies have shown that there is a relationship between pets and the mental health of their owners.

So, if you are wondering how do pets support and improve your mental health, read on for 8 interesting ways?

8 Ways Pets Support And Improve Mental Health

Below are a few ways that pets can help your mental health. 

1. Help reduce stress and anxiety

Imagine coming home after a long, stressful day to wagging tails, excited purring, and happy squawking. The mere thought of it seems to take away your anxiety and stress, doesn’t it? This is the same relief and joy you’d feel when you have pets. According to researchers, interacting with your pet, such as hugging or stroking them, increases your feel-good hormones, i.e. serotonin and dopamine, helping you relax and unwind. Additionally, interacting with your pets can reduce your body’s level of cortisol— the stress hormone. It also lowers your heart rate and normalizes your blood pressure. 

2. Gives you more opportunities to socialize

Pets Support And Improve Your Mental HealthSocializing with others can significantly improve your mental health. Interacting with others can improve your mood, making you happier and more relaxed. Socializing with others also decreases your risks of dementia and other cognitive diseases and impairments. This is because socializing improves your brain health. It also reduces your loneliness as you feel accepted, safe and secure, and a sense of belonging when you are part of a social network. So, if you want to make new friends, are shy, or simply break the ice, you should get a pet.

The truth is, pets are great conversation starters. Since strangers are usually more likely to approach someone with a pet, you are bound to make a friend or two within your neighborhood. You can also consider taking your pets to pet-friendly locations such as beaches and parks to socialize and meet fellow pet owners. You can also consider joining an animal club to meet other animal enthusiasts and lovers. This would help you not only build friendships but also helps you widen your social circle and keep a network of people with whom you share similar interests.

3. Gives you a sense of purpose

Although there are several responsibilities you take on as a pet owner, the very thought of being responsible for your pet positively impacts your mental well-being. This is because you gain a sense of purpose. According to experts, a sense of purpose improves sleep, boosts your immune system, improves cognitive functions, and lowers stress levels. As a pet owner, your pets need you to ensure that they live a good and healthy life.

For example, it is critical to feed your dog with a variety of nutrient-rich meals such as cold-pressed dog food from dog nutrition experts such as Nextrition among others. It is also essential to make regular visits to your pet groomer to ensure their coats are clean and in good condition. Being serious and mindful of these responsibilities further adds to your sense of purpose, as you can rest assured in feeling accomplished that you take good care of your pet.  

4. Provide stability and routine

Routines are vital to ensuring your mental health is in good condition. This is because routines provide structure and predictability, helping you ensure you are organized and alert. Routines also signal daily changes, help manage stress, and keep your brain active. Like you, your pets have scheduled times and days for specific tasks. When missed, this may cause detrimental effects.

For example, if your pet is on medication or has specified eating times, missing these may get agitated or worsen their health condition.

Additionally, following a routine keeps you and your pet calm and balanced. Fortunately, there are several ways you can ensure you stay on routine. For instance, you should consider keeping a to-do list of pending tasks that you need to complete within a day. You can do this in a dedicated notepad or use several mobile apps to help you complete all your tasks. 

5. Help you practice mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is another way to improve your mental health. However, it can be easier said than done, as so many things are happening in your everyday lives you barely have a moment to take in your surroundings! Pets help you break this unhealthy cycle. Your furry, or scaly and feathered, buddies are always in the moment.

They are not worried about what happened a few minutes ago or the previous day and don’t have a clue about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Simply watching your pets enjoy their lives without a care in the world makes you appreciate the importance of mindfulness and how you can live your best life and improve it by practicing mindfulness.

Fortunately, you can practice mindfulness in several ways, such as meditation, breathing exercises, engaging with your senses, and taking in every moment as it presents itself. 

6. Encourages an active lifestyle

walk physical health Pets Support And Improve Your Mental HealthAccording to experts, being active is vital to improving your mental health. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins and other “feel-good” hormones that balance your brain chemistry and improve your mood. Additionally, exercise improves sleep, reduces stress and anxiety, increases energy, reduces brain disease risk, and improves cognitive abilities. Exercise also helps you manage your weight, preventing lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Despite these amazing effects on your mental health, taking the steps to live an active life can be challenging.

The sedentary lifestyle of many Americans has made many too lazy to want to be active, causing more physical health issues and negatively affecting their mental health. All this can change with a pet! Pets, they say, are replicas of their owners. An obese cat would most likely be that way because their owner is. Seeing your pet get unhealthy is a wake-up call for you to change your ways as well as theirs.

Also, pets must be active, as an inactive style makes them restless and unhappy. Therefore, you need to make the time to engage in activities that would give you and your pet the needed exercise. You can take your pets on daily walks and jogs or simply encourage play in a big space for you and them to move about freely as you exercise and bond. 

7. Lend you a listening ear

It may seem strange, but your pet is your most reliable confidant. Sometimes, speaking to a friend or partner isn’t the best way to get something off your chest. Sometimes you want to speak to someone who would listen to you attentively without judging and make you feel good about yourself. And your pet can do exactly that. Your pets provide a listening ear, ready to lay with you as you offload the heavy things on your heart.

Talking about an issue, also known as “venting”, helps you release the pent-up feelings you harbor, which coils lead to stress, depression, anxiety, and other issues that could harm your mental health. Although you may want to talk to someone about it, it can be quite difficult to do so.

But your pet always has time for you, ready to stay with you and ensure you feel better. So, call for your pet next time you’re having a bad day and want to vent your feelings. However, it is important to remember that this doesn’t replace therapy or seeking advice. Contact a trusted and reliable source if you have deep-seated issues or need advice. 

8. Provide companionship 

Just as your pets can help you socialize with others, they also provide a sense of companionship. Loneliness is a common feeling you may encounter occasionally. While it seems harmless, loneliness has been known to shorten lifespans and cause severe mental health disorders. The unconditional love and loyalty your pets show you are enough to make you feel wanted and alleviate the feeling of loneliness. Your pets provide companionship by making you happy, eager to spend time with you, offering emotional support, and providing great comfort in difficult times.

Pets also help fulfill the human need for touch as they love to be in your space, enjoy being kissed, and always want to be hugged and patted. These physical actions not only make your pet feel loved, but it also helps you by lowering your stress and heart rate, making you feel comfortable, less stressed, and happier. Your pets are also performers that would keep you entertained for hours! So, if you ever feel lonely, you should consider getting a pet.

Pets are honestly man’s best friend! When dealing with mental health issues, getting a pet is a great way to help improve it. When selecting a pet, it is important to consider various factors such as age, availability, the kind of pet you’d like to get, the available space in your home, associated costs, and so on. However, no matter the pet you pick, you will enjoy these wonderful benefits and watch your mental health improve.

Think happier. Think calmer.

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