Emotional support animals are everywhere these days. And it’s gone way beyond just dogs, cats. Now, people are finding support and help from everything.
Studies have found that pet owners are less likely to experience issues with depression and anxiety. They even have fewer problems with physical ailments like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. But what is it about animals that produces so many positive effects on us and on our lives?
Loneliness is one of the most crushing feelings a person can experience. People who are lonely are more prone to depression, health issues, and even suicide.
Pets go a long way in reducing loneliness by providing companionship. The type of pet isn’t as important as the connection a person develops with that pet.
The presence of a pet when you are feeling lonely can, just by being there, helps push those feelings away. And, although they can’t talk back, talking to your pet can prove to be both calming and comforting.
Although it can be difficult to walk a snake, many pets require regular physical interaction or exercise to maintain their health. This means that in order to keep them healthy, you will have move a bit, too.
This extra exercise, whether through walks, play or other outings, can have a positive impact on your mental and physical condition. It has been shown that overall, pet owners are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. This probably has to do with the additional exercise that comes with owning a pet.
Structure and purpose
Anyone who has ever felt lonely or depressed understands the lack of motivation and focus that can come along with those feelings, especially when it comes to caring for yourself.
Owning a pet requires you to focus on something else and maintain a certain amount of structure in caring for them. Even if caring for yourself is difficult, a pet needs you to care for them since they are unable to do so on their own.
Your pet doesn’t care about what you look like, how much money you have, what your job is or anything other than being with you. They are happy just because you’re there. This unconditional love can make us feel accepted and comforted in a way that nothing else can.
Playing with your pet or just being with it can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. This helps promote feelings of calm and relaxation. It also can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol, reducing inflammation within the body.
Forget eating an apple a day. Studies have shown that having a pet decreases visits to the doctor’s office, especially in older adults.
This goes beyond the additional exercise that pet owners are likely to get, although that certainly plays a role in staying healthy. The connection you develop with your pets and the love you feel can motivate you to adopt an overall healthier lifestyle so that you can care for them.
Although the benefit of pets and support animals is clear, it isn’t always feasible for everyone. Some people don’t have time, money or the space to own a pet of any kind.