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Can pets relieve stress

choosing the right pet for you
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Are your pets helping relieve stress?

Animals and humans have a long history of supportive relationships, guide dogs for blind people go back a long way and more recently research is showing that horses are able to help groups of people who find relating to other humans problematic. On a more ordinary level, research is also showing that pets like dogs, fish and rabbits bring comfort and security to their owners.Can pets relieve stress? Pets have been shown to ease loneliness, reduce stress, promote social interaction, encourage exercise and playfulness, and provide us with unconditional love and affection.

The feel good factor

Lots of pepole choose to get a pet because of the fun element and remain unaware of the hidden benefits to mental and phsical rewards that are also part of the relationship. Some of the extra benefits that have been uncovered by researchers include showing that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets, they have lower blood pressure in stressful situations, increased levels of feel good hormones like serotonin and dopabine, lower cholesterol levels, better survival rates after heart attacks and those over 65 incur fewer visits to their GP.

Stroking pets is therapy

One of the things that makes the most difference is having a relatioshhip that involves touch. Lots of people who live alone are touch deprived whereas if you have a cat or dog or rabbit etc you will naturally spend time stroking them. This releases a very relaxing hormone into theirs and your system simultatneously causing your nervous system to settle down and recharge which results in us feeling calm and soothed. This combined with the beneficial companionship of an animal leads to a boost in mood and outlook.

can pets relieve stress

The social aspect

By taking on a family pet you are automatically signing up for some healthy lifestyle changes.  Among others are increased exercise, more social interactions, extra companionship, reduced anxiety about going out into the world alone, daily structure and routine and sensory stimulation and relief.

For older family members like an aging grandparent a pet can similarly offer huge health and life benefits. They can bring increased meaning and joy to a life that may have experienced much change and loss, they can support an older person to stay connected to a wider community by providing an easy subject for conversation and attention from neighbours and they can boost viatality through the necessity of spending time outside and exercising. Pets generally encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy.

Pets and children

For children particularly the benefits are very high, especially for only children when a pet can become as important as a sibling. Children who grow up with pets have less risk of allergies and asthma, and also learn important qualities such as responsibility, compassion, and empathy. Pets model unconditional love and are never critical and don’t give orders.  Having an ever-present dog or cat, for example, can help ease separation anxiety in children when other family members are away and studies have show that pets can help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive kids.  Playing  with pets can also stimulate a child’s imagination and curiosity and many afternoons can be spent teaching a dog to sit and retrieve thrown objects!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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