Dogs are wonderful companions. Not only do they bring entertainment and affection into our lives, but they love us unconditionally too, especially at the times when we need it most. Their intelligence enables them to understand our body language, mood and even a change in our tone of voice, and studies show that playing with a dog can elevate our levels of dopamine and serotonin, the chemicals responsible for mood balance.
Here are some of the ways in which owning a dog can help you cope with depression, anxiety and stress:
A source of stress relief
The action and sensation of stroking a dog can lower your blood pressure. In turn, this eases stress and helps you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Encouraging you to exercise
A Harvard study showed that people with dogs walked an average of 30 minutes more a week. Taking your dog for a long walk or hike is a great way to keep yourself and your dog healthy. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling and are considered to be natural painkillers.
Having a furry friend to rely on
When depression strikes, sufferers can be hit with feelings of isolation and loneliness. Having a furry, four-legged friend to come home to can add a considerable amount of happiness and purpose to your life, especially when they’re so great to cuddle up to on the sofa after a difficult day.
Providing opportunities to socialise
Dogs can be more sociable creatures than us and frequently want to stop and say hello to other dogs and people they meet when you’re out together on walks. Being thrown into a situation where you chat to other dog owners is a great way to reduce anxiety and build self-confidence.
A furry distraction
If bombarded with stressful and anxious thoughts, a dog is an excellent source of laughter and playfulness to bring a smile. Dogs don’t criticise or judge, they simply live in the moment. Playing with a dog stimulates the brain and body and helps to release endorphins too.
Helping you to keep a routine
Dogs need a regular feeding and exercise routine to maintain a healthy life balance and you do too! No matter how you feel, caring for your pet is a priority and by putting them first, their routine will work for you too.
Note: Owning a dog is a big commitment and requires a lot of time, attention and responsibility too. If you don’t already own a dog and you’re thinking of getting one to help with depression, anxiety or stress, make sure you research thoroughly beforehand to ensure that you’re able to give any future dog the best home.