Stress levels have increased among adults in the US in the past decade and millennials find it especially challenging to manage this condition. Stress is a major factor in mental health issues such as depression and can also hamper one’s overall health. The good news is that our pets can help is cope with stress among other mental health issues and even help with overall health. This is proven by studies time and again, so much so that war veterans that suffer from post traumatic stress disorder are treated with dogs because their sheer company is healing. Our pets’ simple gestures such as their attempt to play with us, their display of affection and unconditional love is enough for us to forget the stresses of a long day of work.
Here are three ways pets help cope with stress and other health issues:
1. Pets have a therapeutic presence.
The simple act of stroking your cat can have you divert your focus from your daily worries and encourages a sense of safety. Research indicates that owning a pet results in a decreased blood pressure and heart rate. What’s more, even just the thought of one’s pet helps one complete tasks more efficiently and boost confidence. Put those motivational books aside, turn off the self-help talk and start spending quality time with your furry friend because that alone will do the trick!
2. Pets help relieve depression.
The notion of pet therapy is taking a strong foothold in the US as more and more hospitals bring in pets to interact with patients to reduce their stress and anxiety. The presence of pets in a hospital helps create a normal environment and brings in joy and relaxation to patients that spend time with them as they help to generate positive feelings of love and acceptance.
In some cases, patients have been able to get off anti-depression medication because of their frequent interaction with pets. This is because spending time with pets results in the release of anti-depression hormones such as serotonin and dopamine that work even more effectively than any pill would, without any side-effects. Moreover, the mere stare of your pet into your eyes results in the release of the “joy” homone called oxytocin.
3. Pets increase overall health levels.
The company of a pet has positive effects on one’s cardiovascular system, more than conversing with another human could. Pets have the ability to decrease your chances of getting heart disease thanks to hormones that are secreted in your body in the presence of your pet. Dog owners, in particular, tend to have a more active lifestyle which, in turn, helps reduce the chances of having heart diseases. Oxytocin released thanks to your pet’s company can have a great effect on your metabolism helping in maintaining a healthy body mass index. Having a pet can even help those with existing heart condition by increasing their longevity.