Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend” but sometimes we’re unaware of the mental and physical health benefits that our pets provide.
Pets have evolved along with humans. They are acutely aware and in-tune with our behaviors and emotions. Dogs, for example, can understand certain phrases, body language and even gestures and will try to gauge your emotional state. Petting a cat can be very calming and that can be a big stress reducer.
More Ways Animals Provide Health Benefits
Studies have shown that:
- Pets help you be more active. Pets give us a reason to get outside, get some fresh air and get in some physical activity.
- Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
- Pets combat loneliness. The bond with pets helps people feel less alone. Owners can touch, see, hear or talk to their companion animals and that helps to bring happiness to both pets and people.
- Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
- People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Adopting an animal also gives you the opportunity to adopt healthy lifestyle changes including increased exercise, companionship, and reduced anxiety. Caring for a live animal can make you feel loved and wanted, and help take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. Many pets, especially dogs, require physical exercise and regularly scheduled feedings. Your health will benefit if you have a consistent routine which keeps you and your pet calm and happy.
Make New Friends
Pets can be a great introduction to a new group of friends. Pet owners frequently stop and talk to each other at the dog park or on walks. Special interest pet groups, clubs or training classes are ways to meet more pet owners and share your mutual interest.
Reduce Anxiety and Stress
Pets have a way of making us more appreciative and mindful. Because they live in the moment, animals do not worry about what happened in the past or what tomorrow might bring. Our interactions with them reduce our stress and bring joy to our lives.
Ready to find your furr-ever friend? Contact your local SPCA today and bring home more pet-sponsored health benefits!
Those that love to garden, know that spending time amongst the petals provides numerous mental health benefits such as reducing stress, becoming closer to nature and enjoying peaceful, alone time. Let’s explore what makes gardening so healing.
Gardening is a great way to get exercise. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins into your brain. Endorphins are chemicals produced by your body to relieve stress and pain. Even though gardening sometimes feels more like a chore than a fun activity, gardening has a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.
Let’s face it- we spend too much time on our cellphones, in front of the TV or computer. Activities such as gardening is a great escape from constant screen time. There’s nothing quite like checking an item off your to-do list to make you feel accomplished.
Encourages healthy eating
Gardening has many benefits, including growing your own produce. Research suggests that those who grow their own food are more aware of the health benefits of eating from their own gardens. Growing your own produce is a healthy way of living life. Food grown in our own backyards encourages us to eat better because it’s fresh and we know that a lot of TLC went into producing what’s on our plates.
Improves mood and decreases stress
It’s a proven fact that sunlight improves our mood. Working productively in the garden increases serotonin levels, causing you to be happier throughout the day and improving your mental health overall. Gardening also can improve your mood, bring out your creativity and spark innovation. Getting your hands dirty in the soil, specifically soil bacterium, mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin, a natural antidepressant.
People who garden tend to have longer attention spans. Gardening can have long-lasting impacts on our mood in a positive way. If you’re the type of person who has anxiety or depression, research shows that working in your garden on a regular basis can reduce triggers, as the activity leads to fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment.
Fresh air, exercise, sunshine, creativity and peaceful time alone — and more — make gardening a fun hobby that also improves your mental health. So what are you waiting for – go out and enjoy!