Pet ownership is notoriously therapeutic. But what is it about these furry, four-legged companions that make us feel so comforted? In essence, pets can help us maintain a healthy lifestyle and cope with a variety of life challenges such as stress, chronic anxiety, social shyness, and lack of physical exercise. Ask any owner out there; they’ll happily tell you about the many advantages that come with having a domesticated animal at home. In the following article, we explore how and why pet ownership can be greatly beneficial for our minds (and bodies, too!). While pets can have great mental health benefits, sometimes the support of a licensed professional is needed. Learn more about BetterHelp's therapy services online today.
They Provide Comfort
We all need some comfort in the midst of our modern, busy lives. A pet, be it a dog, a cat, or even a rabbit, can help tremendously in that regard. The presence of an animal companion is naturally soothing and helps relieve negative feelings of stress and anxiety. Likewise, it’s been established that people who own a pet are far less likely to suffer from depression. The reason behind that is quite simple; pets help take our minds off our routine and problems. In doing so, they encourage us to relax and clear our heads, boosting our confidence and self-esteem in the process.
They’re Loyal Companions
Loneliness and isolation are silent, yet very damaging ills. Having a household animal can provide companionship, particularly for those who live alone, moved to a new city, or prone to introvertedness. For those struggling with a mental condition, emotional support animals can alleviate some ailments, including depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. You can find out whether you qualify for an official ESA letter with the help of dedicated professionals. Ultimately, what’s great about adopting a pet is they don’t judge you and love you unconditionally. This kind of emotional connection you’ll come to build will do wonders for your psychological balance.
They Force You to Stay Active
Particularly if you’re prone to chronic inactivity, owning a pet will guarantee that you get your daily dose of exercise by cuddling, playing fetch, going for a walk, run, or hike with your favorite companion. They’re a great way to get in shape and stay fit, which can, in turn, have positive effects on your mental health. In fact, pet ownership can work to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, prevent common pains associated with physical inactivity, and help boost your stamina and vitality. So, think well before getting that gym subscription!
They Help You Socialize and Stay Connected
In a similar vein, having a pet will enable you to break out of your shell and go out into the world. This can be extremely beneficial for those with social anxiety. People who walk their dog, for instance, will have something in common, which immediately creates a connection. As such, it can be a way to meet people and forge friendships. Likewise, you’ll get to socialize with owners of pet shops, clubs, or animal training classes.
They Encourage You to Communicate
Speaking of training, the companionship of an animal invites owners to stay communicative at all times. Whether you’re teaching your pet how to sit, stay, or trying to prevent them from hopping on furniture, this will inevitably require some form of expression on your end, both verbal and gestural. And, as stated earlier, this can contribute to building your self-esteem and overcoming certain fears and phobias, such as public speaking. The pet certainly won’t talk back, but in most cases, and with practice and repetition, they’ll understand you.
They Give You a Sense of Purpose
Lastly but importantly, it’s not rare for many people to doubt their purpose in life, or feel downright useless. In that respect, having a pet to take care of at home can keep you occupied and help you achieve a genuine sense of purpose. The simple (yet demanding) act of feeding, bathing, playing, and providing attention to your furry companion will make you realize that you are indeed needed and dependable. For those struggling with mental challenges, a pet can help find joy, feel optimistic, and provide a sense of self-worth. Of note, owning a pet has been shown to dramatically decrease suicidal thoughts and tendencies among afflicted individuals.
All things considered, there are countless reasons why a pet can be a formidable companion at home. They’re affectionate, provide comfort, ease stress and anxiety, and help us keep busy and active. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to realize that caring for a pet is a major commitment and responsibility. Don’t simply get an animal because it sounds good or because you’re bored. Adopting a pet is like taking care of a baby. We feed them, bathe them, play with them, clean up after their mess, but in the end, we wouldn’t imagine our lives without them!