How Dogs Can Help Your Mental Health
Dogs are so much more than pets, they are a part of the family, and one that we instantly love as if they had always been there. But more than this, they can also help when it comes to mental health, giving us a hand when we are at our worst, and asking for nothing more than our love in return. There are quite a few ways in which they can boost our mental health, and here are a few of them.
A Good Dose of Oxytocin
By simply stroking your dog, the hormone oxytocin is released throughout your body. It has a calming effect, reducing your stress levels and lowering your heart rate so that you can feel more at peace. It even reduces your blood pressure – giving you some much-needed relaxation. Even hugging and snuggling your dog has this effect, as being close to them brings us a sense of comfort and calm because we know they are close.
While these feelings are commonly associated with anxiety and depression relief, they are also good for those with PTSD. In addition to the previous statements, dogs are also a security alarm, and they will let you know if there is something unusual. This means that waking from a nightmare or experiencing a flashback can be less traumatic as there is no danger response from your pet.
Giving You a Sense of Purpose
Your dog relies on you to look after them, feed them, walk them, and ensure that they get enough physical and mental exercise. They are a reason to get out of bed in the morning and make an effort. While it often starts out as something you are doing for them, it turns into something you are doing for you both.
The fact that you are able to care for this animal, keep them alive, and ensure their happiness leaves a sense of validation, purpose, and self-worth. It instills confidence and leaves you feeling better about yourself.
Getting Your Outside
A dog will get you outside because they all need at least an hour of exercise – regardless of which breed you decide to get. Being outdoors can act as a natural mood booster, as well as help you to center yourself and your thoughts.
Physical exercise has been shown to alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression and walking your dog counts as such an activity. Watching your dog have fun and enjoy themselves can leave you with the same feelings of elation, and it is hard not to smile when you see them running around and being goofy.
While loneliness is a major issue amongst the elderly population, no age group is free from it. Many of us are lonely, and this can be caused by a number of factors – from the death of a loved one, depression, or even moving away from the people you know.
A dog is there to provide constant companionship, and they will listen to you unfalteringly, never judge you, and promise to keep every secret you tell them. Their touch lets you know that they are there, and the unconditional love they give you is reassurance they are there to stay. Not only do they make great friends, but are an excellent way to learn how to trust again.
Hopefully, this article has shown you just how wonderful dogs can be when it comes to mental health. From helping to ease depression and anxiety to alleviating feelings of loneliness and helping us become more active people – dogs are able to provide us with a whole new outlook on life. They are our best friends, confidants, and the greatest companions we could ask for.
Ever wonder the importance of socializing your pup? Click here to find!
This guest post was provided by Will Tottle.
Will is a freelance writer, his blog can be seen here. If you are interested in more information on the benefits of dog ownership including health tips, buyer’s guides, and gear reviews, then check out his guides over at Dogowner.co.uk
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