How a Pet can have Healing Effects
Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Pets provide such a significant source of companionship, support, and love. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to experience having a pet in their life will tell you that animals truly become part of the family—in every way. Many people even grow to developing such a close bond with their pet that they describe the relationship as that of soul mates.
Just like pets depend on their owners to properly care for them, people also depend on the support and love provided by their pet—love that is described by pet parents as unconditional. Once they enter your home, they quickly earn a very special place in the household and in your heart. The company, affection, and loyalty that pets provide us is invaluable, particularly during tough times, moments of stress, or during those instances of conflicts and issues in our relationships with other humans. There’s nothing quite like the warmth and safety you feel when hugging, touching, or simply sitting side by side, sharing time with your pet.
The healing effects of having a pet and developing a close bond with an animal is rather miraculous. Below we will discuss a few ways that pets can alleviate emotional concerns and enhance your quality of life and wellbeing.
Pets provide you structure and routine—and help you to break your structure and routine.
Pets require time, attention, and daily care like feeding, walking, grooming, and/or cleaning up their living and play areas. Some may consider these tasks a reason to avoid owning a pet due to the added chores and responsibility; however, the reality is that these are reasons to consider owning a pet if you can commit to these duties—duties that provide you with a healthy routine and change of pace that contributes to emotional health.
You see, pet care duties provide you with something to do, every day, that is completely unrelated to work, worries, stressors, or your other typical daily tasks. It provides you a source of routine throughout your day and forces you to take a pause from your activities in order to make room to care for something else—this special animal that needs you. On the same token, pet care tasks help you break your usual routine. Whether you lead a rushed and busy life—or if your day-to-day is lacking in activity—breaking your routine with pet care tasks is essential for emotional health. Optimal mental health requires a good balance of routine and structure, as well as moments of breaking routine and structure. Pets provide an avenue to accomplish both of these objectives.
Having certain pets does make you move more.
It’s a fact that most people who own a dog get more exercise and move more throughout the day. Feeding, grooming, playing, and cleaning up after your dog requires you to be more active and this applies even if you don’t leave your home. If you add several short potty walks or longer walks several times daily, you will certainly move more compared to a lifestyle without a dog. Getting more movement and exercise every day is essential for emotional health. People who don’t have dogs can often go several days without exposure to sunlight and the outdoors—two other factors that are important to incorporate in your daily life to ward off depression and anxiety. When you have a dog you will naturally spend more time outside, in nature, breathing fresh air, and removing yourself from too much indoor time.
A pet means less loneliness and isolation.
It is amazing how pet owners develop such a close connection with their pet in the absence of the pet being able to verbally communicate using language. However, most pet owners will tell you that verbal communication with their pet is not necessary, as pets develop various forms of nonverbal communication, creating a mutual understanding between owner and pet. Some pet owners claim that they feel understood by their pet more so than by many humans in their lives! For these reasons, pets decrease and even eliminate feelings of loneliness. Less loneliness means greater life satisfaction and happiness and less sadness, hopelessness, and depression.
Having a pet often means that you will be less likely to isolate yourself—a behavior that is often typical of people who struggle with depression—and can make depression worse. Pet owners often connect with and socialize with other pet owners, which increases social contact. Plus, if you have a pet that needs outdoor time, like a dog or cat, your lifestyle will naturally expose you to getting out more rather than staying in. There are many comforts available indoors (and reasons to stay indoors) in our increasingly technological society and while technology provides us many conveniences that make life better, the downside is isolation and not enough exposure to getting out the door. Pets are often the only reason many people leave their screens, desks, and couches and enjoy the outdoors.
It's undeniable that pets add so much joy and meaning to our lives. So long as you are willing to give back to your pet and provide it with the care and attention it deserves, becoming a pet parent can be extremely rewarding, adding an immense source of love and companionship to your life.