How Owning a Pet Can Reduce Stress. Some ways to stay mentally healthy include meditation, yoga, journaling, and spending time with a friend. We thought of a fun way to add to the list – getting a new animal friend! Not only can these new friends provide social support and have some health benefits, but they’ve also been found to help with stress in humans. In a recent Verywell Mind survey, 47% of American adults who are currently seeing a therapist say they also spend time with their pet to help with mental health.
Among the most popular activities mentioned by respondents that helped reduce anxiety, stress and improve sleep was having interaction with animals. Jenna Stregowski is an RVT and an editor at Daily Paws on the topic of pets and their role in promoting mental well-being and reducing stress for both humans and their furry friends alike.
How Pets Lower Stress
Research shows that pets are often more therapeutic than people. In some cases, research demonstrates that they can provide better social support, stress relief, and health benefits than humans. Animal lovers will find themselves with even more time since society is in a state of change. One benefit is that people have more time to take better care of their animals and reinforce the human-animal bond. The added time together is good for both human and animal lovers.
The best way to stay in a good mood when you’re feeling down is with a loving pet. Not only does pets have the social support and reduced stress, but research confirms that they can offer mood-boosting benefits. A 2017 study found that those with AIDS were less likely to suffer from depression if they owned a pet2.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Although ACE inhibiting drugs can help to reduce blood pressure by constricting the arteries, they aren’t as effective at controlling spikes in blood pressure due to stress and tension. Some studies have concluded that there are positive physiological effects from petting a dog or interacting with a pet, especially lowering blood pressure.
Whether we walk our dogs because they need it, or are more likely to enjoy a walk when we have companionship, dog owners do spend more time walking than non-pet owners at least if they live in an urban setting. Most people with dogs will likely tell you that they enjoy their walks more because of the companionship of their pets, and perhaps even the feeling of being part of a community of other pet lovers. Because exercise is good for stress management and overall health, owning a dog can be credited with increasing these benefits.
Provide Social Support
Dog walking has health benefits that can dramatically improve the quality of your life. When you walk with your dog, you’re more approachable for people and are able to get closer to them, ultimately leading to a stronger network and a healthier mind-body connection.
Offer Company and Unconditional Love
Pets can offer the love and companionship that people cannot, or don’t want to provide. They could also offer comfort from loneliness, a sense of belonging, or whatever other reason you need. There’s even evidence that nursing home residents enjoyed less loneliness when visited by dogs alone than when they spent time with other humans in the facility – because there was more of an emphasis on social connection in a visit with pets present.
Pets vs. People
Working late can be stressful, and getting a friend or loved one to keep you company may not be an option. Research shows that when there’s a fight, our pets often help us recover from the stress. When there’s an ambiguous task like eating celery, humans with their pets and those without reported lower levels of cortisol. The study also found animals who were held and petted had smaller bouts of crying or whining than they did when alone.
Can We Benefit From Any Pet?
While it’s hard to beat dogs and cats for their popularity, Stregowski says that she has seen all sorts of pets that enrich the lives of the people who have them. She includes fish tanks in this list as well as other animals such as snakes, lizards, and even rats.”Even looking at fish in an aquarium can be a type of meditation,” Stregowski states.
A Word from Very well
It’s important to note that this is not the right choice for everybody. However, nearly everyone can agree that the benefits of having a pet outweigh the drawbacks. Having a furry best-friend can reduce stress in your life and give you someone to lean on when times get tough.