Thats Frankie, my 4 year old bulldog. Having not grown up with dogs as a kid, I was amazed to discover all perks and joys of being a pet owner. He truly fills my home with joy every single day. While he does sleep most of the time, he is always awake and wagging his tail to greet me when I come home. Any feelings of stress, exhaustion, or fatigue melt away as we take our evening walk in our neighborhood together.
Research shows that owning a pet can have a big impact on your mental health. I'm not just talking about therapy animals or emotional support animals - ANY pet can lift your spirits, brighten your day, and improve your mood. Heres how:
They make you more active. One important benefit of having a pet is they make you more active and (obviously depending on the pet) get you outside more often. Breathing in the fresh air, hearing the birds sing, and feeling the warmth of sun on your skin helps you to relax and connect to nature. Spending more time outdoors helps you increase your daily dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D has actually been proven to help fight depression, cancer, and obesity. Having a fuzzy happy reminder that its time to go outside, gives you more of a push to actually head out the door!
They help you increase mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined by a mental state in which you are fully present and aware in the moment. Spending time with your pet, whether it is petting or playing, helps you forget about your daily worries and focus solely on giving them attention in that moment. There is just something so comforting and soothing about sitting down and petting your furry companion. The physical motion of petting and bonding with your pet actually releases the hormone oxytocin ( hormone related to anxiety and stress relief) which can lower your blood pressure. Amazing!
They keep you company. Besides the obvious benefits of not being alone, pets provide a great sense of comfort and companionship. Knowing that there is Frankie waiting for me at home is personally one of my favorite parts of the day. Pets provide unconditional love and can be the perfect source for any pent up frustrations or complaints about your day! They are wonderful and quite willing listeners. Pets never judge, or give unwanted opinions. They are just true, steadfast best friends whose favorite job is loving on their person. What more could you ask for?
They bring you purpose. A lot of people struggling with depression, anxiety, or trauma can have moments where they lose sight of their sense of purpose. It's easily to spiral into a negative thinking pattern and feel despondent about the future when you feel that you don't have a purpose. Having a pet instantly gives you a sense of responsibility and fulfillment in your daily life. By having to get up, walk the dog, feed your fish, or change your cat's litter box, you are giving your day both structure and purpose. It feels wonderful caring for a furry buddy - it's an instance source of gratification.
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