Look to Your Pets for Stress Relief

There are lots of reasons to be a pet owner. Some people look for companionship in animals. Others want a reason to get outdoors. Whatever the reason, pet ownership can be enjoyable and can help improve your health.

Today, we’re going to take a look at what research says about looking to our pets for stress relief.

Pet Ownership and Heart Health

Overall, owning a pet can help improve a person’s health. Aside from the companionship that a pet offers, people are more likely to be in better health when they own a pet.

It’s hard to say “no” when your cute buddy makes eyes at you and begs to go out for a walk. The subtle pressure that your pet puts on you is positive. A study done by the Wellness Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital found that owning a dog helped the owners lose weight, and if the dog was overweight it also shed pounds. That’s a win for the dog and the owner.

Older adults benefit a lot from pet ownership as well. Older adults can find purpose in pet ownership. Many older adults lose responsibilities that they previously had. Owning a pet can be the reason to wake up early and get out of the house.

Pet Ownership and Mental Health

Owning a pet has been so good for many people’s mental health that it has been dubbed “the pet effect.” According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a pet or therapy animal can help combat:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Social isolation

Pets are great for your mental health as they can give you a reason to head out. Your pet gives you companionship, but they can also act as a social lubricant. A pet can help you meet other people. Dog owners frequently stop to talk with other dog owners on walks or in the dog park. Just getting out in some fresh air and interacting with others can do wonders for your mental health. A dog can easily convince you to go out for a walk even if it’s the last thing you want to do.

Health Benefits and Children

Both adults and children can benefit from playing with pets. Children who grow up with a pet are likely to suffer less from allergies and asthma, and pet ownership teaches many useful skills as well.

A child who grows up with a pet can learn empathy and compassion as they learn that their actions affect others. This works well because children learn that their pets will not judge them. Parents or teachers can sometimes be a source of anxiety. Pets can have a calming effect and give children a sense of security.

Pets can also provide children with life lessons since they can serve as an example. Children can learn about things like reproductions, birth, illness, accidents, and death by having and learning about pets. Again, the constant love and loyalty that a pet gives can provide an ideal place to learn about themselves and the world around them.

What if You Can’t Own Pets?

Owning a pet is a serious commitment. Getting a dog or cat is a commitment that can last a decade, if not more. You are also faced with the grief and mourning that comes with losing your faithful friend.

Aside from the emotional bond that you’ll feel from having a pet; there is a lot you’ll have to pay for. There are food costs, vet bills and many other costs associated with pet ownership. For some people, this can be a hurdle in the way of having a pet. That and some people live in housing that doesn’t allow pets.

Fear not, though. Even if you are not able to own a pet, you can still reap the benefits of pet ownership. One way is to talk to a neighbor who has a dog. If someone you know is willing, ask them if you can walk their dog for them. They’ll likely appreciate the free dog walking service you’ll provide, and you’ll be able to engage with their dog. Another choice is to volunteer at a shelter. You can interact with many different animals and get to know their personalities while providing a service to them as well.

So, whether you own a pet or not, there is a benefit from engaging with animals.

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