Can Pets Help Our Mental Health?
Ask someone about their pet and they’ll light up when talking about their furry friend. It’s no secret that pets can make us happy, but can pets improve our mental health? Studies suggest the answer is yes.
Across 17 different studies, researchers found that having a pet companion can reduce feelings of anxiety and loneliness. What’s surprising is that similar positive effects were even shown in those with mental health conditions, as well. While the studies focused primarily on dogs and cats, other animals were studied and shown to have a similar effect.
What’s more, the results aren’t limited to adults, either. Pets have also been shown to aid in teens’ social development and help them positively connect with others. This is especially beneficial as teens face the added stress of school, becoming more independent and forming relationships with peers.
Experts believe that this is because pets offer emotional comfort and unconditional love without judgment. Plus, the responsibility of having pets can be a good distraction from the worries and symptoms of mental illness.
Studies show that having a pet also promotes physical activity and spending time outside. Being outside and physically active have both been shown to have countless benefits for your mental health. Having a pet can allow you to take advantage of both.
Of course, having a furry friend isn't all roses. Many pets require time, money and patience. Plus, pets aren’t for everyone and pets can vary wildly in their needs. That’s why it’s important to figure out if having a pet suits your lifestyle and to find one that’s right for you.
Your companion doesn’t need to be your only outlet for your mental health. We’re here for you, too. Click here to learn more about our tools that can support your mental well-being.