Pets and Mental Health
Many people have furry friends living with them, but pets can do more for mental health than you might think! Having domesticated pets encourages people to get outside, and get moving. Besides increasing circulation, being physically active outside can help lower depression, anxiety, obesity, and even heart attacks, all while the body absorbs Vitamin D from the sun (Huffington Post).
When you connect with your pet, oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief, is released, helping to reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels (Huffington Post). Pets can also be a great comfort since they often tend to seek out their owner when they feel some kind of emotional imbalance. Furry friends can also increase self-esteem, as they typically love unconditionally and depend on their human companions. Having an excited pet to go home to each day can easily brighten your mood.
Pets are also being used more and more in therapy. The rise of animal therapy is backed by increasingly serious science showing that social support–a proven antidote to anxiety and loneliness–can come on four legs, not just two. Animals of many types can help calm stress, fear and anxiety in young children, the elderly and everyone in between (Time Health).
If you don’t have a pet, you can always volunteer at a local shelter and receive the mental health boost that comes from bonding with animals.
Blog Post by: Sarah Warner, MS