There’s something about a pet that always seems to put a smile on your face. On those days when you’re feeling down or having a bad day, you can always count on your furry, four-legged friend to pick you up. Pets aren’t just a friendly face, they are also good for helping improve our mental health. And here are a dozen reasons why:
1. They keep you active. When you toss around a ball or Frisbee to play fetch, you stay active and moving, which can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, keep you physically fit and boost your mood and confidence.
2. They get you outdoors. Dogs typically require daily walks or jogs through the park or neighborhood, which means you have a reason to get out and mingle with nature. It’s a calming feeling, and the vitamin D from the sun can help lift your mood and fight depression by raising your blood levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help you feel happy.
3. They keep you engaged in the moment. Being interactive and engaged with Fluffy keeps your mind off of the negative thoughts that leave you feeling down or depressed, and it keeps you from worrying about what is bothering you.
4. They are great therapists. Well, not literally, but they are great listeners. When you need to talk about whatever is bothering or worrying you, and you are afraid to talk to a person, talking to a pet can help. No matter what you are going through, they love you unconditionally.
5. Petting them is soothing. The constant rhythm of petting your dog or cat not only comforts them, but it helps comfort you. When you find that connection with your pet, levels of oxytocin, the hormone that controls stress and anxiety, drop and help lower blood pressure.
6. They help build immunity to allergies. Growing up around pets can help build an immunity to allergies and asthma. Allergies can often make a person feel tired, lethargic or unable to sleep, which can lead to some form of depression.
7. They make great companions. Pets are great when it comes to fighting feelings of loneliness. Often, they can sense when you need a little love and are quick to get close to you when you need a friend.
8. They can boost your social life. Particularly with dogs, getting out to the dog park or local running trails can get you interacting with other people and pet owners. Pets serve as a great conversation starter and make it easy to connect with strangers. They can also help you get to know people in your neighborhood!
9. They give you purpose. By caring for an animal, you get a sense of purpose in your life, which can help you focus on something other than whatever worries you might have.
10. They give unconditional love. No matter how bad your day is going, pets greet you at the door with a wagging tail, a purr or a loving brush along your legs to show how happy they are to see you home. That kind of excitement can easily boost your mood immediately.
11. They put a smile on your face. Who wouldn’t smile or get into a better mood after seeing a dog roll over or lick your face, or when a cat cuddles up in your lap or chases a string? When a pet lifts your mood even for an instant, it’s enough to last all day.
12. They get you to have fun! Go ahead, jump around and act silly while playing with your pet. Just wrestling with them, chasing them or dancing with them can lift your spirits.
Information gathered from Huffington Post.