Looking for Love
How Pets Help Mental Health
Sometimes in life, moments occur when you know it is time to take action. As I walked through considering a number of different partners, I reflected once again on the 101 reasons why it was better to stay disengaged. I did not have time to invest in a new relationship. These things could be so messy. He might have needs I could not fulfill or make demands I was not prepared to meet. However, from the moment we made eye contact, I knew he was the one. His eyes were speaking volumes, with the clearest message being let's get out of here and go play together. There were many other indicators to let me know he was the one but that silent message was key. There and then I knew that Shih Tzu was going home with me.
Buber said an animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language. His eyes conveyed total acceptance with no criticism. It is a message he has continued to convey whether I am happy, sad, angry, or fearful about life events. He reminds me to play, to exercise, to take time out to smell (although I think I will stick to flowers rather than some of the things he sniffs), and most importantly to display affection for the people that matter in my world. He is always valiantly on standby as my protector (all 16 pounds of him) to alert me should danger be in the area and did you know pet owners live longer because owning a pet is said to reduce stress? Bowie has certainly done that in my world.
Bringing a pet into your home can be incredibly rewarding, from the unconditional love and loyalty they provide to the sense of security that comes with having a furry companion by your side. But did you know that owning a pet can also have lasting effects on your mental health? Research has shown that having an animal friend around can help reduce stress levels and even lead to increased life expectancy. Here, we'll explore the different ways pets can impact our mental health, how our four-legged friends can bring us joy, and why adding a furry friend to your home could be one of the best decisions you ever make.
Having pets in our lives is nothing new; humans have been living with animals since prehistoric times. From cats being worshipped in Ancient Egypt as gods to Elizabeth I keeping her own menagerie of over 30 animals, from dogs and rabbits to parrots and snakes, it's clear that our affinity for animals is longstanding. Today, we understand more about the power of pets thanks to research showing just how beneficial they can be for our physical and mental health. Let's take a look at some of the most impactful benefits below.
Reducing Stress Levels
One of the major benefits of having a pet around is their ability to reduce stress levels. Studies have shown that when exposed to stressors such as exams or public speaking tasks, people with pets had lower cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress) than those without animal companions. Pets also provide comfort during times of anxiety or depression. Playing with them releases endorphins which help elevate moods. In fact, simply stroking an animal has been found to lower blood pressure levels!
Providing Social Support
In addition to reducing stress levels, pets can also act as social support systems when needed. For example, if you are feeling lonely or isolated then having a pet nearby providing comfort can make all the difference; two thirds of Americans believe that their pet makes them feel less alone throughout their day-to-day lives! Even when it comes to older adults who live alone, studies have found that elderly people who owned cats experienced fewer feelings of isolation than those without cats in their homes.
Increasing Exercise Levels
On top of providing emotional support, owning a pet has also been linked with increased exercise levels in adults and children alike! When you take care of an animal companion, you need to get out there with them, whether they need walking or playing fetch, these activities not only give both parties much-needed exercise but also act as valuable bonding time too - plus both you and your pet will benefit from being outdoors in nature! Plus, research suggests that this increased exposure to physical activity may even lead to extended life expectancy among pet owners due to improved general well-being overall.
Joy to Our Lives
Daily life can often be mundane, so it's easy to forget just how much joy animals bring us on a daily basis! From greeting us after long days at work with wagging tails or purrs given in appreciation for belly rubs - having an animal around boosts happiness levels no end! Pets are also particularly good at distracting us from negative thoughts by literally showering us in affection whenever we are feeling down or anxious; reminding us what really matters in life: simply enjoying every moment together!
There is no denying the numerous positive effects owning a pet can have on our mental health; from reducing stress levels and increasing social support right to improving exercise habits and bringing joy into our lives, all wrapped up into one small package who loves unconditionally! So, if you're looking for extra love (and maybe some protection!) consider taking a visit to the nearest shelter today, because whether you're after companionship or joy (or both!) adding a fur baby into your home could be one decision you never regret making.
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Note: Content created with Jasper AI.
About the Creator
Jeanell Norvell, S-LPC, Ph.D.
Stressed? I am on a mission to take the stress out of life transitions. At a crossroads in your personal, professional, or educational life? My blog is designed to empower you to move past roadblocks and achieve your goals.
Wowie ~ Bowie ! We all can 'relate!'