pets reduce stress

5 Ways Pets Can Help Reduce Stress

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If you’re a dog or cat owner, you know how rewarding it is to have a pet in your home. Our furry companions bring companionship, excitement, love, and joy into our lives. But did you know pets have been scientifically proven to help reduce stress? 

Whatever your career or life circumstances, your pet can help you cope with the stresses of everyday life. And, we’re especially thankful for our pets during difficult times when stress is higher than usual. 

Here are 5 ways your pet can help reduce stress, improve your health, and boost your overall quality of life. 

1. Petting your dog or cat can reduce stress.

One study conducted by Washington State University revealed that the simple act of petting your dog or cat can reduce stress. The study was conducted with student participants from the college. Researchers found that the student participants’ cortisol levels were lowered after just 10 minutes of petting and interacting with cats and dogs. 

It’s amazing that something as simple as spending a little time with our pets can help us feel so much better. Curl up with your cat or give your pup a belly rub–even just for a few minutes–and you’ll be nurturing your pet and taking care of yourself at the same time. 

2. Having a pet can benefit your mental health.

Many individuals struggle with mental illness, particularly anxiety disorders and depression. In one survey, 74% of respondents reported that having a pet was beneficial to their mental health. Getting a pet is an easy lifestyle change you can make for your overall wellbeing–not just your mental health. 

If you’re already a pet owner, spend more quality time with your dog or cat. If you’re experiencing debilitating anxiety or depression, it’s best to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. Your provider can work with you to design a plan that fits your individual needs–and includes plenty of therapeutic time with your pet, too.  

3. Pets can help reduce the negative impact of social isolation. 

Pets provide companionship and a friendly presence for people who might otherwise spend a lot of their time alone. Additionally, having a pet could alleviate loneliness during times of social distancing, such as we’re currently experiencing due to COVID-19.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that pets help people who are experiencing rejection or social isolation. Though they may not be human, our furry family members absolutely keep us company. 

4. Having a pet boosts your self-esteem.

Pet owners report higher self-esteem–a state of being that significantly impacts your stress levels and wellbeing. When you have a poor self-image, that influences your ability to set and achieve your goals–and it also makes your stress levels skyrocket. 

Higher self-esteem can lead to lower stress and a better overall quality of life. Spending time with your pet, therefore, raises your quality of life in a myriad of ways. 

5. Pets can help you exercise more often.

Exercise is a fantastic natural stress reliever. Physical movement boosts your endorphins, lifts your mood, and helps generate an overall sense of well-being, lowering your stress levels in the process. 

Dogs, in particular, require a lot of exercise. If you’re a dog owner, helping your dog exercise means you’re getting your daily steps in, too. 

Before you go…

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