There’s a powerful bond between humans and pets. Anyone who has allowed a pet to impact their life knows how their very presence can provide us with comfort in times of need. In fact, just the act of petting your animal is an instant mood-booster. While we may not fully understand it, the positive connection between pets and mental health is undeniable.
The Mental Health Benefits of Animals to Humans
Whether you have dogs, cats, gerbils, or iguanas, there’s no denying that having a pet is a great source of support for your emotional and mental health. Here are just a few of the mental health benefits our little furry friends can provide.
Having a pet dog means you’ll need to get out and get your pup some exercise. Even a short daily walk helps your pooch stay in tip-top shape. Your dog, however, isn’t the only one benefiting from daily exercise. Regular physical activity can have a profound positive impact on your mental outlook. It improves cognitive functions like memory, helps you get more sleep, and boosts your overall mood.
Help You Meet New People
Meeting new people can be hard. There’s always that awkward first encounter where you’re not sure what to talk about. Whether you’re going to the dog park, out for a walk, or hitting the trails, you’re sure to meet other pet-lovers. Pets also allow you to meet new people at training classes, pet stores, and other pet-friendly locales. Conversations are a lot easier when you have a shared interest in four-legged friends.
Add Structure and Routine to Your Day
Pets thrive on structure and routine. Dogs especially need to be fed, exercised, and taken out at regular intervals to relieve themselves. Having a consistent structure to your day keeps animals relaxed and balanced — and the same could be said for you. Even if you’re feeling depressed or stressed out, knowing that you have your pet’s needs to tend to can keep your mind off your own troubles and focused on caring for one another.
Provide Sensory Stress Relief
After only five minutes of stroking a cat or petting a dog, stress-related hormones decrease, helping you feel calmer and more relaxed. Plus, playing with your pet releases serotonin and dopamine, hormones known for their calming side effects. When you laugh at your pup’s antics or your cat’s quirky behavior, this stimulates the release of “happy hormones,” giving you a sense of deep joy.
Pets are incredible treatments for depression and anxiety. Pet owners are far less likely to suffer from these serious mental health conditions, as they have a constant source of companionship in their pets. Having an animal to love helps you feel needed and wanted. You can even use your furry friend as a sounding board to talk through your troubles. The simple wag of a tail or soft purr are incredible cures for loneliness.
Learn More Healthy Coping Strategies at Taylor Counseling Group
While owning a pet can serve as a great source of comfort, if life is getting you down and you feel like you can’t handle it, you may need a professional counselor. The compassionate and highly skilled team at Taylor Counseling Group is here to walk with you through life’s struggles and help you find hope and healing. Schedule your appointment at one of our locations in Central Texas.