As I’ve mentioned before, this series is a bunch of shorter posts covering specific topics related to all things animal.
There’s been a lot of research done exploring the link between pets and improved mental health. This post is a quick overview of how owning an animal friend can be good for anyone. Later I will be writing about how some animals can assist with specific conditions.
Pets can provide companionship. If you feel isolated, especially if you live alone, having another living creature in the house can be reassuring. A pet can be a consistent, accepting, loyal presence in your life. They can help reduce stress by making you slow down and relax at the end of the day by sitting with them and patting them. Speaking of patting, pets fulfil the basic human need to touch – safe physical contact is often more important to wellbeing than we realize. Having a small fluffy thing to sit on your lap can improve your mood and mental health.
Owning a pet can also give you a routine, in regards to feeding, cleaning and exercise. Especially if you struggle to feel motivated, a pet can give you some purpose and responsibility. They also make you exercise (if it’s a dog) by ensuring you walk them or at least run around the backyard with them and a ball. (I also find chasing my cat out of places she shouldn’t be gives me a fair bit of exercise).
Especially when you are struggling with life, with motivation and with social interaction, pets can be a lifeline to stability. When human relationships are hard, but you get lonely without them, pets can provide a safe middle ground – a bridge to better, more stable human interactions.