Pet Ownership and Improving Mental Health
We have all heard the saying that dogs are mans’ best friend, but did you know that Fido can actually provide significant benefits to your mental health? According to WebMD, interaction with other living creatures can help decrease aggressive thoughts and behaviors and improve overall social interaction. The impact of an animal’s presence on mental health has proven to be so positive that hospitals and nursing homes across the globe have implemented animal assisted activities (AAA) where docile animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits and even pigs are brought into these settings to interact with patients.
Animal assisted therapy during formal therapy sessions has similarly become widely used at prestigious medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic. The sole presence of an animal in these situations can make therapy seem less threatening to the patient. Animals can also help therapists open doors to shut down, depressive patients for if they can describe how the pet is feeling, they are more likely to in turn share how they are feeling.
Pets are not only beneficial in traditional healthcare or therapy settings. Pet ownership can bring everyday social and emotional benefits to ordinary people. Routinely caring for animals can improve self-esteem, promote confidence, and ease depression. Having a pet provides unconditional love and support, a reason to get up in the morning, and a boost in fitness and subsequent levels of endorphins through daily outdoor walks. The American Animal Hospital Association reported that 76% of pet owners claim their pets significantly lowered their stress levels. Overall, pets help with mental health in 5 ways:
- Pets reduce work-related stress.
- Pets can help increase productivity.
- Pets help manage anxiety.
- Pets can help you be more active.
- Pets provide a sense of togetherness.