10 Reasons DOGS Improve Your Mental Health

My name is Jennifer Bishop. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with offices in Boca Raton and Virtually. I specialize in working with children ages 3 to 16 and with Adults on wellness and healing to live their life’s purpose.

When I am feeling depressed or lonely, my dog, Kyla always cheers me up. She cuddles with me, then motivates me to get up, dressed, and out the door for a walk or some play time. Somehow my fur-baby even gets me to smile, no matter how miserable or stressed I feel. I am not alone. All pets, especially dogs, can help your mind, body and spirit!

Here are a ten reasons why:

1. They get you outside: Sun and fresh air elevate your mood and the sun gives you an extra dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D exposure helps fight physical and mental conditions, including depression, cancer, obesity, and heart attacks. Also, when you go outside with your pet, you are engaging with nature. The sounds and feeling of nature can be incredibly calming.

2. They get you moving: Walking your dog and engaging in outdoors activities like  gives you a natural energy boost, and allows you to let off steam. It also makes you more physically fit, strengthening your muscles and bones, which helps not only your body, but also your self-esteem. Studies have shown that animal owners,  have lower blood pressure, as well as lower cholesterol and triglycerides, which may be in part attributed to the more active lifestyle pets promote. And when your body feels stronger, you are less susceptible to mental health issues.

3. They lessen allergies and asthma, and build immunity: This one may sound counterintuitive, but children who grow up in homes with furry friends are actually less likely to develop common allergies. Studies have shown that children who were exposed to dogs as babies were less than half as likely to develop allergies, including dust, grass, ragweed and pet allergies, and were at a lower risk for asthma. Allergies can cause people to become lethargic, apathetic, and suffer from insomnia, which can make them more vulnerable to mental health issues, such as depression.

4. Petting reduces stress: Rhythmic petting or grooming can be comforting to your dog and you. Concentrate on the texture of his soft fur, the warmth he radiates, and his deep breaths. When you connect with your pet, oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief, is released, helping to reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels.

5. They both distract you and keep you present: Being present and engaged with your pet takes your thoughts off of the issues that are plaguing you. When you are fully in the moment, you are not worrying about the past or the future. It’s just you and your pet.

6. They lessen loneliness: If you don’t like to be alone, pets can be great domestic companions. Often a pet is very intuitive and will seek you out when you’re feeling down, refusing to allow you to remain alone.

7. They’re great listeners: You can talk to your pet about anything — your day, your hopes, your dreams. You can practice a speech with them, lament about a breakup, or utter truths that you may be afraid to actually share with someone else. A dog or cat can be the perfect “person” to go to when you want to vent without any potential repercussions.

8. They love you unconditionally: Seeing her enthusiasm when you walk in the door can be an instant mood-lifting boost. Her tail wagging, tongue hanging out her mouth making it look like she is smiling, the way her ears perk up. She doesn’t care if you just screwed up a deal at work, or bombed a test, she loves you for being you, whatever that means on any given day. She’s just happy to see you. She wants to be around you, to love you, and be loved by you.

9. They can lessen your isolation: Dog parks allow for more opportunities for socialization for both your dog and you. Your dog makes friends pretty easily and will break the ice so you can connect with new people, and perhaps set up future dog dates, hikes, or playtimes at local parks. Your little cutie can be an instant conversation starter, and also a good way to get to know some of the people in your neighborhood.

10. They can give you a purpose: Having a pet to care for can give you a feeling of purpose, which can be crucial when you are feeling really down and overwhelmed by negative thoughts. By caring for your pet, or another person or animal in need, you are focusing 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.

 

For more tools and information, visit my website at www.mysouljunkie.com

I offer a FREE Consultation – Call today at 561-408-1098!

 

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