by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 26th November, 2018
Animals can be one of the greatest methods of therapy out there. They're loving, sweet, and can entertain us to no end. In addition, they do a great job of comforting us when we aren't feeling well.
As if there aren't enough reasons to have a pet in your life, we're going to take a look at several ways pets can help to improve your mental and emotional health. Read on and enjoy!
Loneliness is something that plagues our society, and you may not always feel comfortable turning to other human beings to remedy it. This can be especially true if you deal with social anxiety, or have simply been feeling unwanted by the other people in your life.
On the other hand, pets not only love you, they need you. Caring for a pet can help you to feel that you have more purpose than you might otherwise, and sometimes we really need that feeling. No matter what kind of pet you choose, taking care of them can really have a great effect on your health.
You can't really help but get a little exercise when your dog needs to go for a walk multiple times a day. This is not only a great way to get that exercise, but also get outside. Even just for a few minutes, getting outside offers its own beneficial effects on our health and wellbeing.
If you're someone who tends to lock yourself away inside, then knowing your dog needs to get out may convince you to avoid doing that quite as much. As a result, we can begin to feel less isolated, and maybe even a little more put together so that you can be on the ball when your dog needs it.
Our pets aren't ruminating the past or worried about the future. They're right there with us, in the moment. As a result, they can help us to be more in the moment as well, which is something many of us need! Spending a little time playing or cuddling with your pet can remind you that you're here today, and that's an important thing.
In addition, they can teach us to be more mindful. This is something we all need in our lives, and it can help in a number of ways. From eating healthier to getting out more, or even just avoiding the pit of anxiety or depression. Pets are fantastic for reminding us to be present.
For those who are dealing with mental illness, pets can be an absolute lifesaver. The love we have for them, and the unconditional love they return is a huge source of comfort for many. Even something as small as a hamster or finch can help those with mental health problems to feel more in control of their emotions, and it can help to keep their mind off the mental illness itself.
Overall, pets can assist with our sense of self worth, identity and purpose. These are some truly key aspects for enjoying a happy, healthy life and they are all things that those with mental illnesses can struggle with. Even those who suffer from illnesses like schizophrenia can benefit from having a pet in their lives to take care of.
With or without a mental illness, self care can be a difficult thing to always stay on top of. The presence of a mental illness can make it even more difficult, sometimes driving us to remain in bed rather than showering, cleaning the space around us or even brushing our teeth. However, taking care of a pet can remind us of the importance of taking care of ourselves as well.
When we put the effort into that care for another being, we can understand just how important that effort is. In turn, engaging in more self care can help us to feel better overall. Just as lacking self care can result in a spiral of negative emotions, engaging in self care can create an upwards spiral of health and happiness in many ways.
Pets can have a fantastic ability to fight back against the isolation that can sometimes occur in our lives. There are also a number of ways in which they can do this, depending on the pet you have. For example, dogs can help you to get out more, whether it's on a walk or to the dog park. Through this, you can begin to build some social skills and feel a little more comfortable while you're out and about.
For pets in general, there are a variety of other benefits that can help you to feel more comfortable around others. These can include less anxiety or depression, higher self-esteem and a better ability to keep emotions regulated. As a result, you may find that getting out and being social isn't quite as intimidating as it might have seemed otherwise.
For those who are moving on in age, pets can create more comfort and help them to remain calmer. In those who are suffering from Alzheimer's can find that their emotions are a little more regulated, resulting in fewer outbursts. We all know what a struggle that illness can be, so anything that can help to provide them with comfort is a wonderful thing to try out.
Otherwise, pets can also help in general with the comfort they offer and the ability to help them get out. In those who are elderly, things like stiff joints and arthritis can result in them going out less. However, it is important for them to get a little exercise, otherwise those kinds of issues can worsen. Walking a dog can be a fantastic way for them to get out and enjoy some gentle exercise.
For children or adults who didn't gain the skills earlier, pets can be a great way to learn how to be more responsible. It can teach us how to keep up with a pet schedule for baths, food and water, grooming and other aspects that go into taking care of an animal. In addition, it can be useful for learning how to plan, which is a very important thing to learn!
For children especially, this kind of learning can be key to helping them learn how to take care of themselves and future family should they choose to start one. It's really very crucial for children to learn these skills, as they may find themselves struggling more with chores and self care as an adult otherwise.
Who of us hasn't seen or heard of a pet getting extra snuggly when their owner isn't feeling so great? When we have a close bond with certain pets, they can sometimes seem to understand when we need a little extra love, and they're more than happy to provide it! This can be especially useful for those who suffer from depression, who can often feel very alone when things get rough.
Pets can provide comfort when other humans in our lives might not be able to. For many, it's enough to pull them back from the worst of the feelings and gain the comfort they need to pick themselves back up and start taking on life again. There are really few things that can match the love a pet can provide when everything else is looking bleak.
You may not have realized it, but pets can also help with allergies! Some have found that when children are around pets at a younger age, they tend to be less irritated by allergies like eczema or asthma as they get older.
This is very important to remember if you have young children in your home, as the allergies they can receive from pets can worsen when they are adults if they don't get that exposure. Not to mention, pets can make for great friends and guardians to our children! It's well worth adding to your home for that alone.
The love that pets provide is unconditional, which isn't always true for other humans around us. This is an aspect that can sometimes not quite get the attention it deserves.
Our pets don't care how much money we make, what we look like, or how well we're climbing the career ladder. They aren't concerned with the mental illnesses we may have or the losses we may have experienced. Instead, they seek to share the love that many of us need so dearly. They are truly fantastic allies.
Whether it's a hamster, dog, cat, ferret or even a goldfish, pets can help us to feel a lot better than we might otherwise. They lift us up when we need it, make us laugh and remind us to be present. There are few alternatives to the deep love that we can feel for our pets.