7 ways a furry friend can improve your mental wellbeing 38



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If there’s one thing that we all learn at some point, it’s that life is not always a picnic. Each of us have those days when the couch is almost impossible to leave. Whether you’re just feeling lazy, or perhaps a little down in the dumps, we all experience the feeling of mental sluggishness.

Imagine then feeling like this and suddenly have your faithful friend jump up and cuddle next to you. No doubt this would instantly make you feel a little bit better, if only for a moment. Not only do pets make you happy, but there are a variety of other reasons why they can help make those darker days a whole lot brighter.

1. Pets distract you

Your pet demands attention. Whether it’s your cat rubbing against you, or your dog waiting for you to throw their favourite toy, they will usually be around waiting for you to do something. When you play with your pet, it then becomes difficult to focus on that thing that you’ve been so worried about lately. Yes, it’s just you and your pet playing together. In that moment you forget about your problems and become immersed in the activities of your furry companion.

2. They lesson loneliness

For dog owners, a walk down to the local dog park is a great way to not only interact with other dogs, but to interact with their owners as well. This sets the stage to strike up new and fruitful relationships, whether you intended to or not.


3. They get you moving

Playing with your pet or taking them for walks at parks gets you moving as well. A host of research reinforces the strong link that exists between exercise and mental wellbeing. In addition to this, studies have shown that animal owners, both adults and children, have lower blood pressure, as well as lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Furthermore, a subsequent benefit of pet ownership is increased blood circulation, which lowers the risk of experiencing major cardiac issues.

4. Petting reduces stress

Petting your furry pal has been proven to be a natural way to increase the level of oxytocin within the brain. This is the naturally occurring chemical our bodies produce that is linked to relationship building, and is known as the ‘bonding’ hormone.


5. Pets get you outdoors

We all know that too long inside can make a rather grumpy pet (except maybe for cats). Naturally we have to get them outdoors and in the sun. With the sun comes Vitamin D, which has been shown to help fight physical and mental conditions, including depression, cancer, obesity, and heart attacks.

6. Pets love unconditionally

When you walk into the room, nothing perks you up faster than a wag of a tail, or a deep soothing purr. They don’t care if you’re relationship sucks, or if you just watched TV for 10 hours straight. They simply love that you’re there taking care of them.

7. Pets let you live with purpose

Have you been feeling a tad adrift with little direction lately? Having a pet to care for can give you a feeling of purpose. This can be crucial when you are feeling really down and overwhelmed by negative thoughts. By having a pet to care for you become focused on something other than yourself and your life. Your good deeds, and your pet’s positive response, will give you a feeling of instant gratification.iStock_000043435794_Large

These are just a few good reasons why having a pet can be really great. Apart from being great listeners, they’ll keep you company when you really need it most. If you can’t own a pet from some reason, local animal shelters are always on the look out for willing volunteers. These can be great places to get that pet fix you so crave.

Let us know how your pet helps you in the comments below.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I bought my lovely Malshi dog a month after my hubby passed away, and I know he would be pleased. I called him Flash and he is my companion and I love him unconditionally as he does me. I would not like to be without him now, we go out walking every day, and I had met many new people and their dogs, which is magical.

    2 REPLY
    • Yes Linda, that is what I have been told. He is a beautiful wee dog, so. Affectionate and friendly. Didn,t like males at first, but now is so much better with any. that he comes into contact with.

  2. Currently fostering 5 kittens. I once again after 20 years without charmed by them. 3 found homes and i’m feeling bereft already. Silly me.

  3. Pat, if my husband departs this earth before I do, then I will ask the Tribunal if I can have a small dog, as this would be a life saver I think, and help with the loneliness. Glad you are okay.

  4. I have a lovely chocolate brown cat as we are not allowed dogs in our complex. He sits on my lap and purrs while I tickle his ears, and I find it very calming.

  5. My little man is my salvation, I had so many very good excuses not to have another pet, but we got a little rescue dog who had been trying to find a home for months and you wouldn’t believe what a loyal little angel he is. I absolutely adore him.

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