The Power of Pets: Our Mental Health Supporters
Throughout the pandemic, our society has experienced higher levels of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. In response, thousands of individuals and families adopted animals to provide comfort, excitement, and companionship in this uncertain time. Whether you work remotely or in a pet-friendly office environment, many of us work with our loyal pets by our side. Owning a pet is a major commitment, but the benefits are considerable. Whether it’s a friendly dog, an independent cat, a chatty bird, or a curious rodent, pets provide increased levels of joy, happiness, and calm. Libertana recognizes the role our furry friends play in improving our physical and emotional wellbeing and encourages responsible pet ownership.
Here are 4 examples of the health benefits that come from having a pet:
1. Decreasing Stress and Reducing Anxiety
Interacting with animals causes our bodies to produce hormones that lower stress levels. By just petting a dog or cat, our production of cortisol abates, which can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Petting can even lower blood pressure. Studies have also shown that playing with animals increases oxytocin and dopamine – two hormones that considerably relieve stress and tension. If a dog or a cat isn’t your preference, perhaps a few fish could be an option. When you watch fish in a home aquarium you can lower your pulse and reduce muscle tension!
2. Building Healthy Habits
Pets are a responsibility. But the responsibility of owning a pet can lead to the forming of healthy habits and lifestyle improvements. Dogs and cats obviously require scheduled meals and exercise. When you establish a feeding and walking schedule with your pet, you can gain added stability and routine to your life. This structure can be helpful for people with anxiety and mental health issues. Pet owners, especially dog owners, also receive the health benefits of exercise when walking and playing with their animals.
As many of us know, having a pet means you are never alone. Pets can provide companionship and a purpose in life, particularly for older adults. Animals can boost our individual morale and engender overall optimism, contributing to healthy aging. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other social organizations often use animals for pet therapy to comfort individuals during individuals’ times of need.
4. Making New Friends
Pets offer individual companionship, but they can also help us connect to others. For example, dog owners often interact when walking their dogs in neighborhoods or parks. These interactions help connect you with people in your neighborhood and wider community. Pets also provide an easy topic of conversation which can help folks with social anxiety feel more at ease in social situations. A dog, cat, bird, or rodent can also support the emotional development of and foster self-confidence in children, helping them make human pals too.
Although there is science to support several benefits of pet ownership, it is important to remember that animals are not guaranteed solutions for mental health issues. Please consider both the commitment and lifestyle changes you will have to make to provide a healthy home for an animal. All the unconditional love and support your pet provides you as an owner should be reciprocated.
Pets make a wonderful addition to any family and add tremendous joy. If you are interested in pet ownership, please research your animal of choice and find out what emotional support friend would fit best for your lifestyle and financial situation.
Our Furry Mental Health Heroes!
Thank you to everyone who submitted a photo for this little gallery! If you'd like to add your pet please email the cutest photo you have of them to firstname.lastname@example.org!