“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” ― James Herriot, All Creatures Great, and Small.
The above quote aptly signifies the strength and warmth of a bond between a human and an animal, especially a pet. Pets can be great companions as well as an ultimate antidote to mental stress. Lately, the popularity of different social media platforms has led to limited interactions of people with their loved ones, which has made them detached, cold and recluse.
Animals, however, are non-judgmental, generous and ever-forgiving living beings. They are highly sensitive to their owner’s mood, deeply receptive to emotions, and are also quite possessive. Studies have ascertained the psychological benefits of owning a pet. Listed below are some ways in which a pet can help strengthen mental health and alleviate distress:
Fighting depression: Death of a loved one, separation, a chronic illness or any other major life-altering incident can give rise to depression, which if left untreated can become life-threatening. People who own pets find it easy to navigate through such negative phases of life, because animals are skilled at perceiving the human mood and when they discover that their owner is aggrieved and silent, they get into the act of hugging and licking and display overwhelming affection. This leads to the release of dopamine and serotonin in the human brain which causes a feeling of well-being and happiness.
Relieving anxiety: Studies have shown that petting an animal can have a relaxing effect on the mind. Cuddling and playing with an animal releases oxytocin in the human brain which brings a drop in the blood pressure. Taking them for a walk and spending time for even a few minutes can reduce muscle tension and alleviate anxieties and social phobia.
Eliminating loneliness: Pets can never allow their owner to feel lonely and isolated. They are serious attention seekers. A pet owner is usually occupied in activities such as bathing, feeding or walking the pet, which keep him or her focused and busy, inculcating a sense of belongingness and being loved.
Increasing social interactions: Owning a pet means taking them for a walk, a game, pet shows, veterinary doctor and other pet-friendly places. This might also present new social interaction platforms to the owner, thereby curbing the anxiety and widening the network.
Building physical strength: Pets need to be taken around for a walk regularly and this, in turn, can also benefit the physical health of the pet owner. Better physical health has a direct effect on the mental well-being of a person, resulting in reduced stress, improved quality of sleep and relaxed outlook.
The quest to find inner peace by letting go of the armor of self-resilience can be a great challenge for a lot of people. Stress arising out of the daily grind makes one forget the meaning of self-acceptance and self-compassion. And that is the reason why a lot of people nowadays are so hostile and overcritical most of the time. Living and bonding with a pet can be a therapeutic experience. In fact, pets remind people that life should be lived in each moment and that love can heal almost anything.
Road to recovery
More than the increasing pervasiveness of mental disorders, it is the lack of accessibility to treatment facilities which is becoming a major concern. Therefore, it is important to start the treatment as soon as it is diagnosed.
If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental health issue, consult the Sovereign Health for the best mental health programs that specialize in addressing underlying mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, depression, etc., by using innovative treatment methods. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online for information on our mental health centers in your area.