Antidepressants, psychotherapy, group therapy, and rehabilitation – they were all created to help us out when our mental health takes a tumble. But many of these interventions are costly and time consuming. All the while, a proven mental health booster is snoozing right at the foot of your bed. There are several reasons why pets aren’t just fun to have around; they’re also great for your mental wellbeing. Like a living mobile game
- Soothing presence
You’ve always felt that Fido is comforting, but studies have also supported the stress busting effects of animals. Researchers measured the blood pressure and muscle tension (both stress indicators) of adult patients preparing to undergo oral surgery. They found that simply watching fish before the surgery was enough to measurably lower those indicators. That’s why every dentist’s office has an aquarium!
- Unconditional love
Pets allow us to have interactions with another living creature without the looming shadow of judgment. A study posted on the Johns Hopkins Depression and Anxiety Health Alerts Page describes how a group of nursing home residents reported feeling less lonely after spending time with a dog alone than after spending time with a dog and other residents.
- Healing power of touch
Research has repeatedly shown how healing is aided by touch. Massages can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the simple act of hugging triggers the release of oxytocin, reducing heart rate and blood pressure. Spending some time stroking your pet has health benefits as well including lowering stress and increasing levels of the “feel good” chemicals.
Your four legged friend may not be able to render serious psychological treatment obsolete, he can certainly give your mental health a boost.
For more on the health benefits of pets: