Pets and Mental Health
As most of our communities remain largely closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have turned to their pets for stress relief.
What makes a person desire animal companionship? Some people had a pet during childhood while others have pets to assist them with a physical or mental disability such as epilepsy, or autism and some people just love animals. Many people feel happier and have more energy with owning a dog. Cats can be great companions for their quiet, calm disposition. Most animals’ consistent, predictable behavior can give you the right dose of routine to help you find routine and stability. If you are considering a pet, think of the reasons why you might consider adopting a new family member.
The Power of Touch
Humans need a healthy amount of physical affection in our lives. This starts from birth with skin-to-skin contact used for newborns. Hugging, kissing and even physical play like wrestling have all been proven to benefit our mental and emotional wellness. Dogs are well known for being cuddly, loving companions. A dog’s need for physical activity like walks or play can help the owner get more exercise. Cats often love to snooze on laps and be stroked. They are a great companion if you can’t offer a lot of time for a lot of maintenance.
While most of the time, talk therapy is helpful when someone is asking questions and validating responses, there are times when a simple listening ear can provide just what you need. Your dog or cat may not understand what you’re saying, but they can often read your emotions and provide a calm presence. Equally, many people adopt pets to stave loneliness. This can be very effective in balancing your mental health while in recovery.
Sense of Purpose
It’s no secret that pets can be maintenance. This can sometimes be a downside to owning one. However, maintenance doesn’t always have to be a downer. The routines associated with feeding, grooming and exercising a dog can be great for stress relief. Oftentimes, a very chaotic day can serve as a trigger for a person in recovery, but having consistency and routine can act as a safe and predictable schedule that causes you to feel accomplished and purposeful.
Maybe not so much for cats, but dogs can be a great source of energy. When you have someone else to care about, like a dog that is eager to get out of the house, there is a much greater likelihood that you will be willing to go for a walk. Being outside and moving is always beneficial.
It’s important to stay healthy and take precautions for your health.
If stress begins to impact your daily life and taking breaks or connecting with loved ones doesn’t help, reach out get support. There are mental health professionals here to work with you every step of the way and online support groups. Learn more about our mental health programs.