Once you own a pet, it’s hard to imagine life without them. The moment they enter the front door, they become a part of the family, and that means additional responsibility to take care of the newest member. Only a pet owner can tell about what a satisfying and rewarding experience it is to have their own pet, and despite the expenses and time contribution, it’s still one of the decisions that pet owners never regret in their life.
Pets usually have unconditional acceptance and love towards their owners and they’re always there for you, and even if they can’t utter a single word, just sitting next to them is comforting and calming. Pets aren’t just cute and small animals to keep one at your home. Having a pet increase the responsibilities but they also benefit the people around them in regard to their physical and mental health.
Here are some of the psychological and health benefits of having a pet:
1. Lowers stress hormones: Studies have proved that petting and playing with pets reduce the stress hormones which is quite helpful for people with anxiety issues.
Higher levels of serotonin and dopamine have a calm and relaxing effect on the nervous system. Reduced stress can make the person feel more relaxed and benefit their physical health as well. Interacting with friendly pets can reduce the levels of cortisol, and increase oxytocin, both of which can reduce stress naturally.
2. Make one feel needed: Caring for a pet gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. According to a research study, it was concluded that caring for a living creature can produce mental health benefits including a reduction in depression and loneliness. With an increase in oxytocin, there are many positive effects on the body as it reduces the blood pressure, and inhibits the production of oxytocin cells.
3. Develop empathy: Owing a pet teaches the person from the young age itself that all living beings need comfort when they feel pain or hurt. Having a pet, even as an adult teaches the person to see things from other’s point of view. It helps in developing a more caring and compassionate attitude.
4. Improve self-esteem and well-being: Studies prove that pet owners have improved well-being in various areas such as better self-esteem, less fearful, and more extroverted, with a happier and healthier lifestyle than non-owners. People who own a pet are found to be less fearful and preoccupied than the people who didn’t own a pet. In addition to that, people who are close to their pets are also closer to their friends and relatives.
5. Being in the moment: Pets mostly live in the moment, unlike humans. They are less worried about the things that have already happened or going to happen.
Pets are more mindful and can help their owners enjoy and appreciate the present moment instead of worrying about everything else. Spending time with pets can have a positive effect and teach how to live carefreely.
6. Support mental illness recovery: Pets are considered extremely helpful in recovering from mental health conditions as they can help in managing the emotions. In society, most don’t respond to mental health issues the way they should, and the unconditional support from pets can be a big help when the person is feeling emotionally fragile. Pets can also help in sticking to a routine as most people with mental health problems find it challenging to do so on their own.
7. Help to build healthy habits: Pets can help increase fitness levels and boost the overall happiness and well-being. They help in sticking with new and healthy habits and implement them in their daily routine. Taking the pet for a walk, or eating at the usual time are the habits that can help the person to be physically active and make healthy lifestyle choices. Along with the physical benefits, there is improved cardiovascular health and increase physical activity than to none of us is actually free. Increased physical activity also leads to lower cholesterol and decreased blood pressure.
8. Support social connection: Your pet won’t teach you how to talk, but having a pet gives a common topic to talk about with people, especially other pet owners. It becomes a lot easier to initiate the conversation and make a social connection with others.
According to research, there are special benefits for having a pet for a child, as children who have a deep emotional attachment to their pets, especially dogs, have an easier time building relationships with other people.