Whether you have a dog, a cat, or a Flemish giant rabbit, your pet can do wonders for your mental health.
Here are just six ways in which they can benefit your mental well-being:
Pets can boost your self-confidence
Pets offer unconditional love. They can be great listeners too. By simply having a pet to talk to and be affectionate with, your self-confidence can be boosted because you will not feel as lonely, isolated, or misunderstood.
Pets can help you reduce feelings of anxiety
Whether you suffer from the medical condition of anxiety or have bouts of feeling anxious, pets can help you to feel calmer, happier, and more relaxed. By petting or playing with pets, you release stress-related hormones. In fact, that occurs after only five minutes of interacting with a pet.
Playing with an animal also raises your levels of dopamine and serotonin, which help to calm your nervous system. Quite simply, playing with a pet can make you feel much happier and much less anxious in a short space of time.
Take time to find the right pet for you, though. And remember to look at the practical side of owning a pet before you rush into it. You need to think about the cost, who will look after your pet when you cannot be around, and what type of insurance you should get. For the latter, start by comparing different options with iselect pet insurance.
Pets can help you feel less stressed
Spending time with pets can help you to reduce stress, too. That is because interacting with an animal like a friendly dog can reduce your levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone.
At the same time, interacting with a furry friend can increase the release of oxytocin, which is a natural chemical that helps to reduce stress. Plus, stroking a pet can lower your blood pressure, and with lower blood pressure, you can experience less stress.
Having a pet makes you feel needed and wanted
To prevent mental health issues from arising or worsening, sometimes all it takes is to feel needed and wanted. When you have a pet to care for every day, that is precisely what you feel.
By caring for another living creature, you gain a sense of meaning and purpose. That does not just apply to pets that you interact with, like dogs and cats. Even owning a stick insect can help people to feel worthy and valued, and less depressed and lonely.
Pets can teach you how to become mindful
Contrary to the saying, you can sometimes teach an old dog new tricks. Furthermore, pets can teach you things too. One of the greatest lessons that pets teach, which can be especially beneficial for people with mental health issues, is to be in the moment.
Animals do not worry about what happened yesterday and what might occur tomorrow. By spending time with creatures that live in the moment, you can feel more in the moment yourself and stop worrying so much.
Basically, pets allow you to become more mindful, in which you bring your attention to the present moment.
Pets could help people with certain mental health conditions
You will now have a good idea of just how beneficial pets can be for preventing mental health issues from arising and aiding people with existing mental health issues.
Some studies show owning pets can be good for specific mental health conditions too. For instance, people with ADHD can benefit from the routine and structure that they need to provide their pets with and autistic people can become less overwhelmed and build better social skills and confidence when they spend time with loving pets.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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