Love Animals? Science Says Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Mental Health

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After reading this, you'll want to get a pet ASAP!

Why Owning A Pet Could Improve Your Mental Health

As if owning a pet wasn't already good enough, now reports show owning a pet can also improve your mental health!

Too bad we didn't know that back when our parents wouldn't let us get a pet as children, right? At any rate, it's a little gratifying to know we were always right. Most importantly, we know now that our mental health can be improved by owning a pet. Pets actually help lower your stress levels, help you sleep better, and help you feel less lonely. Sounds pretty incredible! Read on to discover just how owning a pet can benefit you!

1. Pets Reduce Stress

Owning a pet is a great way to reduce the stress in your life! Sure, sometimes pets might create messes that seem stressful at the time, but in reality, there are some great mental health benefits. Just five minutes interacting with an animal can reduce stress and anxiety in the body, while actually playing with a cat or dog raises your serotonin and dopamine levels. Even just petting your pet can reduce cortisol levels, lower your blood pressure, and release oxytocin!

2. Having A Pet Keeps You Present

Pets don't worry about the past or present (well, they may worry about when their next meal will be, but that's about it) and don't dwell on things the way people do. It turns out that owning a pet actually helps people live in the present as well. Pet help bring mindfulness to their owners. Mindfulness is the "psychological process of bringing one's attention to the present moment, and if achieved, it can drastically reduced the stress and anxiety in your life.

3. They Help You Feel Less Lonely

Whether you feel lonely because you're living alone for the first time in your life or because of your depression, having a pet can lessen feelings of loneliness. Living alone could potentially trigger symptoms of depression, but owning and caring for a pet provides companionship and can even prevent illness or add years to your life. Many pets are intuitive and know when you're feeling upset, often comforting you themselves because they love you.

4. Pets Help You Sleep Better

While pet owners are often awoken to cats pawing at the back of their head or toxic dog farts, 41 percent of people actually sleep better with their cat or dog according to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic's Center for Sleep Medicine. It is likely due to the comfort pets provide people. Dr. Kelly Rushton, co-author of the study, says, "We feel that pet ownership has a valuable contribution to mental health, so should be incorporated into individual care plans of patients."

5. They Give Us A Sense Of Purpose

Dr. Helen Louise Brooks, a doctor of psychology from the University of Liverpool, says that not only can pets provide people with "a feeling of acceptance without judgment," but that they also give people "a sense of purpose and identity." Caring for a pet makes us feel wanted and needed because they depend on us. This can be especially important when you're feeling overwhelmed by other things going on in your life because it gives you the chance to step back and just focus and your pet. That always helps because you know your pet loves you unconditionally.

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6. Boost Activity Level

Adopting a dog will require physical activity which will have many benefits to your mental health. Dr. Esteban Kosak MD expertly mentions: “Most breeds of dogs require one to two walks every day, all year round. Walking a dog regularly can have huge benefits to mental wellbeing, as well as weight, bone and heart health and vitamin D exposure, to name a few.”