7 mental health benefits of owning a petadmin
The value of pet ownership for mental health is something that we sometimes think about in the abstract.
However, many mental health studies point to more than just one or two reasons having a pet can be beneficial for both you and your family.
Animals help to calm us and result in healthier mental functions. These benefits are mainly present when your pets are present, but they can also carry over into your daily lives.
Here are seven reasons why owning a pet is beneficial for you.
1. It reduces stress and anxiety
Interaction with pets helps reduce anxiety and stress, as it balances our cortisol (the primary stress hormone) and oxytocin levels.
This will improve problems with anxiety, depression, sleep, memory, and concentration.
On top of that, petting animals can calm and relax us as it lowers blood pressure even more than engaging in human conversation.
In fact, studies have also shown increases in dopamine (otherwise known as happy hormones) after stroking a dog just for five minutes!
2. It provides companionship
Dogs are known to be man’s best friend, but they’re not the only ones that can provide companionship.
For example, you can talk to your bird, and they will talk back sometimes. And even if you can’t pet your fish, they can still be a calming presence in your life.
Those who live alone, especially those who have lost someone through death, divorce, or other reasons, can benefit from pet ownership as it can help decrease loneliness.
This is supported by a study that shows that women who live alone with pets are less prone to depression.
3. It provides structure and routine
Having structure and routine can help with your mental health. Pets can help provide a structural framework as you feed them, clean them or their cages, and take them out for walks.
Having structure and routine in your life helps with stress, as it gives you a sense of normalcy, controllability, and predictability.
4. It gives you something to look forward to
Anticipation can play a significant role in our mental health. We tend to feel more intense emotions related to the future than the past. As such, the enjoyment we get from anticipating our future can significantly improve our feeling of well-being.
This is where pets play a crucial role, as it helps you look forward to future plans with your pet such as the next hike or the next visit to the pet store to find the perfect toy or treat.
If you keep fish and have a big tank, you might even think about what plant or decoration you’ll add to your tank next!
5. It pushes you to spend time outdoors
Having a pet like a dog, horse, or even a tortoise or rabbit can help get you outside more, which will increase your exposure to sunlight and vitamin D — both of which can help with depression.
As all types of exercise can improve our mental health, pets can encourage you to participate in more exercise-based hobbies like horseback riding, running, walking, and hiking.
Even throwing a ball in the backyard or the exercise you get from cleaning a pet’s living quarters can add to your activity level.
6. It’s good for your children too
It’s not just adults that can benefit from owning a pet. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says that pet ownership helps children’s mental health in various ways.
Children with pets have less childhood anxiety and stress, and can increase their emotional and social health. Those without siblings can specifically increase their prosocial behaviour and overcome loneliness when they own pets.
That being said, combatting loneliness during childhood can help prevent your child from experiencing depression and anxiety in their later years.
7. It helps with long-term mental health issues
Pet ownership allows people with long-term mental illnesses to manage their emotions and distract themselves from their mental health symptoms.
Pets can also provide ontological security, which is created from that which brings meaning to your life and give you more of a sense of stability and continuity.