Did you know that 69 million households in the U.S. own at least one dog? Besides being cute and sweet, pets can have a positive impact on your mental health, a critical part of your overall well-being. Here are a few reasons why our pets can help our health:
Have you ever noticed a calming effect when simply cuddling with your pet? Pets help us reduce anxiety and relax thanks to a hormone that lowers when we interact with them called cortisol. The body’s main stress hormone, cortisol acts like our built-in alarm system and works with certain parts of our brains to control our mood, motivation and fear. As a result, when our cortisol levels are lower, we feel calmer. To take it a step further, the social interaction we have with our pets increases levels of another hormone, oxytocin. This feel-good hormone is the same hormone that bonds mothers to babies and is linked to positive emotional states. This combination of cortisol-lowering and oxytocin-boosting effects when interacting with your pet can also work to lower your blood pressure—amazing, right?
Though it can feel like a lot having an animal depend on you, having a responsibility that requires your time and attention every day can have its benefits. The routine that tending to your pets’ daily needs creates can help build a sense of responsibility, promote stability and restore a feeling of control. Maintaining a consistent schedule of grooming and exercise is not only important for your pet, but is also a simple, fun way to stay active and focused on your daily tasks. If you’re unsure of where to start when building a routine for you and your pet, taking a morning walk is an easy first step that you and your pet can enjoy together.
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