The ‘Aw’ Factor
How Pets Can Help Our Mental Health #worldmentalhealthday
Many pet owners simply can’t live without their pets. Our animals become so important to us - part of the furniture, part of the family. But aside from the overwhelming love we give to them, science suggests that their love could be supporting us more than we know.
Research shows that having a pet can help us to cope in times of stress by increasing our good mood and reducing our negative thoughts.
It is also suggested that pets can help reduce anxiety and depression, increase our self-esteem and even help us sleep.
And in the time of a pandemic when mental health problems due to isolation are all too common, our furry friends can help us feel less alone.
Suffice to say that I am a great advocate of how pets can help our psychological wellbeing.
I think I would feel incomplete without my three adorable dogs, and although I may moan when we have yet another dog walk in the rain and come back wet and muddy; the benefits of walking and loving them are priceless.
Walking dogs in particular is a great form of exercise which can help reduce blood pressure, risk of heart attack and even lower our trips to the doctor.
However, not everyone’s lifestyle is set up for pet ownership, but you can still get an injection of your own pet therapy by volunteering at your local animal rescue or why not even offer to take your neighbour’s dog for a walk?
Better still, according to a study by Japanese researcher Hiroshi Nittono we don’t even have to own our own pet to get the benefits of pet therapy. He found that participants who viewed positive pictures or videos of animals experienced a boost in certain performance tasks, especially those that required skill and concentration.
So, the next time you see a cute puppy video online, you may want to think twice before you skip it as it could be that mood booster you need.
That said, if you have been affected by anxiety or depression or are worried about your mental health in any way, please do not be afraid to reach out. I offer a free 15 minute telephone conversation to talk through your worries and to see if I could help you. firstname.lastname@example.org