The tie between dogs and humans is as old as time, and the bond between the two is continuing to evolve. The longer a human lives with his dog, the more they grow to love each other. The more the human feels accepted and happy. Does that prove that dogs are good for a human’s mental health?
When We Get Stressed
Almost every aspect of our lives gives us stress – school, work, family, friends, financial. No wonder we often feel burned out. Many of us try to divert our attention into something to forget the stress we feel. Some turn to a broad spectrum of pharmaceuticals for relief. But what many do not know is that the vital answer to relieving their stress is already right inside their homes.
How Does Our Buddy Help Us Fight Stress?
Most of us want and long to be touched. We crave for that cuddling and caressing that provides us with a sense of well-being. A simple hug never fails in making us feel better.
A study done revealed that hormonal changes occur in our body when we interact with our dogs. Playing and cuddling our dogs for a few minutes makes our brain release serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin which are our “feel good hormones.” When our brain releases these hormones, our heart rate slows down, which is beneficial to our health. And during this time also, our cortisol decreases which makes our stress levels go down. The experts then concluded that therapy involving dogs is helpful in coping with stress-related mental health illnesses as well as depression.
Your Dog’s Companionship
When depressed, you often want to isolate yourself. You pull away from friends or family. But when you have a dog, you tend to choose to be with him. Your dog becomes your security blanket. Why? It is because your dog provides you with unconditional acceptance (read further here: Mom Junction) The kind of relationship between you two makes you trust him more than another human. His presence in your life can make you feel that you are not entirely alone.
Dogs Give Unconditional Love
Sometimes, things become more complicated when people surround you. Your relationship with your dog is not that complicated. Being around him makes things simple. He just wants to be with you. He loves you without asking anything in return. As I said before, a dog won’t judge you, so you feel free, not worrying about anything. Your dog can’t give you unsolicited advice, but he’ll hug and cuddle you, which is what you need the most.
Dog Can Keep You On Track
No matter how lonely you feel, you are still aware of his needs. That your dog has to eat, walk, and do his normal routine. Accompanying him and sticking to his schedule can help you get your mind on to something else even for just a moment. Knowing that it’s you alone whom your dog can rely on gives you a feeling that you are important.
Your Dog’s Activity Is Good For You, Too
If your dog needs a walk, you have to walk with him. Walking him outside will allow you to have a breath of fresh air even for a moment and that little physical activity is right for your mental wellbeing. Having a dog is also an opportunity to start a conversation with someone who is walking a dog, too, or interested in a dog. Talking about pets is a safe topic to engage in with strangers. It will allow you to fight the feeling of being isolated. As we know it, feeling alone is what sometimes causes our depression.
According to the National Geographic, there are now over 50,000 certified therapy dogs in the United States alone. Some therapists use the service of these trained dogs, especially in treating those who have PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder). Their presence provides comfort which therapists believe could ultimately lead to healing. They are also being brought in schools and some college campuses to offer students the much-needed break.
I bet those who own a dog will confirm everything mentioned above. Dogs make them feel better every time they feel a bit down.
Dogs have become man’s best friend because of that unconditional love they very willingly give without expecting anything in return.
More than just best friends: dogs and our mental health. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.foundanimals.org/just-best-friends-dogs-mental-health/
Stevens, S. (2018, April 6). Pets are good for your health, and we have the studies to prove it. Retrieved from https://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/11-studies-that-prove-pets-are-good-your-health