Can pets be beneficial for our mental health?
Our furry little friends are good for more than just looking cute (although really that’s more than enough!) – they are also great for our mental health. Having pets (most often it’s cats and dogs), can reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
As you can imagine, having a companion that loves snuggles and requires care can not only ease feelings of loneliness but also give us a purpose to get up in the morning when that prospect seems more difficult.
They can even encourage us to adopt more play into our lives (a basic human need!), get us exercising and out the door!
Wow, writing this, I’m thinking ‘what can’t they do?’
A lot of these benefits we can observe through our biology; pets lower our heart rates, blood pressure and cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body. There is even research that shows that the effect of touch can also have a calming effect on the nervous system, even that from animals.
Animal assisted therapy, or pet therapy, has grown a lot of traction over the past few years for these exact reasons. Now people with mental health issues, as well as physical health issues, have support animals!
So, am I saying “go out and get a golden retriever” on a whim?? No! Obviously there are a lot of things to consider before getting a pet… This information is to be used wisely and won’t be a one size fits all approach! But just something to think about if a pet has been in the pipeline for some time – consider this a little push in the right direction.