Humans and animals have a powerful bond. If you have or have ever had a pet, you’ll know that they quickly become a very important part of the family. No matter how old we are, most of us find joy in our pets and couldn’t imagine life without them.
There has been a lot of research to back up the benefits of pets for our mental health, with many stress-relieving and mood-boosting benefits of having a cat or dog at home. Animals can help with issues like anxiety, stress, and depression, along with easing loneliness by providing companionship.
Pets and Our Stress Hormones:
Studies on pets and mental health found that spending time playing with or petting animals can reduce stress-related hormones after just five minutes. If you often spend time with your pet to relax after work when you’ve had a stressful day, you’ll know that it can be a great way to unwind.
Spending time with your pet can also raise our levels of dopamine and serotonin; both hormones that relax and calm your nervous system, raising our mood and reducing stress.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety Symptoms:
Studies have shown that people who spent time interacting with a friendly dog had lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. In addition, spending time with our friendly and loving pets can also increase the release of oxytocin, the chemical that is responsible for bonding feelings and which naturally reduces stress.
In addition, petting your animal friend is a sensory act that can help us to relax by lowering our blood pressure.
Sense of Purpose:
Caring for another living being can give us a sense of meaning and purpose, which can often help boost our mental health. This is true even when the pets and caregivers do not interact a lot, so if you are considering getting a pet to help you with anxiety but are worried about taking on the responsibilities of walking a dog, a pet that does not require as much attention might still be able to help.
Recent studies on the benefits of pet ownership found that people who have pets tend to be more confident with better self-esteem, less lonely, more conscientious, less fearful, more sociable, and more physically fit.
Live in the Moment:
Having a cat or a dog at home is a great way to remind you to live in the moment. After all, your cat isn’t worrying about something that happened yesterday or overthinking the future, they are just enjoying the spot of sunlight coming through the window.
Having a pet can help you become more mindful and encourage you to live in and enjoy the present moment rather than being preoccupied with other things. They can act as a great distraction from whatever is bothering you, and help you become more carefree.
Most of us don’t know where we’d be without our pets. Having any pet at home can have a huge range of benefits for your mental health, including anxiety relief.