A Dog Is Good for Your Emotional Health
If you have a pet, you already know the abundance of affection and fun they bring in your everyday life. However, what you may not have known, according to Help Guide, is that pets are also good for our physical and mental health and well-being. For example, dogs can help lower anxiety, depression, stress and stop loneliness and encourage playfulness and physical activity and they are even good for the heart’s health.Without doubt, dogs can really fill our lives with genuine joy and unconditional love.
A lot of people say that their dogs are their best friends, mostly because of their devotion, loyalty, and cuddliness and the fact that they are someone who loves us more than we love ourselves. And, as explained on Psychology Today, ongoing research points out that they are not just trustworthy companions, but there are evidence of their benefits for the cardiovascular health, the blood pressure, and cholesterol and of course, they help us work out more and live healthier. In addition to being good for our physical health, newest scientific findings indicate that dogs support our emotional and psychological well-being as well.
To learn more about why a dog is an excellent pet, this article is focused on presenting the major reasons why they are beneficial for our emotional health. Keep reading.
How Dogs Improve Our Emotional Health
Emotional, also known as mental health, as emphasized on Family Doctor, is a crucial aspect of our overall health and an individual is considered to be emotionally healthy if they are able to control their behaviors, feelings, and thoughts and to cope with the many challenges in life. An emotionally healthy person is satisfied with himself and has quality relationships with others. It is also vital pointing out that being constantly happy is not a sign of an emotionally healthy person.
As noted on Psychology Today, dogs can help us better our emotional health in several ways. Here are the major ones:
- They teach us about mindfulness
When a dog is bathing in the sun while lying on the floor, it is actually experiencing the nice sense of warmth penetrating its body. Daily interaction with a dog teaches us how to be more mindful or how to focus our attention on the present moment and to fully immerse ourselves in it. Even an ordinary walk with your dog can help you be more mindful because you will be focusing on nothing more but the simple act of walking and this can reconnect you with the sensation and joy of being and existing. Moreover, dogs have an innate capacity to open to every moment as it unfolds, whether this is a sound or a smell and this can motivate us to be more like them. So, during your day, make sure you find a moment to be more attentive of the sensations in your body and notice how they make you feel and remember to breathe deeply.
- Connect us with nature
Dog owners, as seen on Psychology Today, are outside almost every day or several times per day walking their furry friends. They also make us want to spend more time in parks with a lot of greenery, woods, beaches, etc. Being part of nature on a frequent basis is known to have significant advantages for us like low stress, better mood, higher social interaction, less pain, and more creativity. Green spaces, whether we are talking about the small park in front of your building or a vast forest, is definitely a crucial part of a good emotional health.
- They bring comfort
Without doubt, dogs have been able to bring comfort that touches people in a lot of circumstances when they need it the most, especially during or after a traumatic experience. For example, young victims of sexual abuse benefited from therapy with dogs provided by the Orange County district attorney’s office, as noted on Psychology Today.
- Increase socialization
How many times have you started up a conversation with the person who is walking their dog while you are in the park walking yours? Countless times, right? Bravo! This socialization contributes to a higher sense of belonging and it is pivotal for your well-being. Going on a walk with your dog pet is a great opportunity to chat with the neighbours or explore your community and meet new people who will brighten up your life.
- Lower depression and loneliness
Nowadays, even though social media has been booming, people have become physically disconnected and loneliness has been spreading as wild fire. If you have been feeling lonely and purposeless, owning a dog can provide the necessary social support and companionship to battle this problem. The loyalty and devotion you will receive from your pet creates a unique and strong connection which boosts the emotional health. According to Psychology Today, having a pet at home minimizes the risk of depression due to the fact that they are something to concentrate on, which in return gives very little time for negative thinking and more space for love and acceptance.
- Make your life more meaningful
As noted in Being Mortal, a book by Atul Gawande, a surgeon, people are the happiest when they feel that their lives have a meaning and a purpose. Hence, the need to take care of another being gives us a reason to get up in the morning and do what needs to be done, especially with elderly people, but with young ones too. Dogs are definitely beings that can trigger this intention in humans and so we feed them, play with them, walk them, etc. and in return, recieve their affection and look forward to a new day spent with them.
- Dogs may offer empathy
According to Psychology Today, dogs may have the power to feel emotions and even make a distinction between good and bad ones. Moreover, a lot of dog owners, if asked whether their dog is emphatic, would probably say yes. However, according to scientists and as explained by Stanley Coren from Psychology Today, empathy is a rather complex emotion and it requires from one to be able to put themselves into the shoes of another individual with the goal to understand or to share feelings; when it comes to the question if this is the case with dogs too, they argue that there is something more primitive taking place, i.e. emotional contagion or the capacity to respond to another one’s emotions without entirely understanding how the other feels. Hence, researchers dwelling on this subject believe that when a dog sees our distress, they become “infected with it”. Be that as it may, having a dog by your side in difficult times can never be a bad thing, regardless of the reason why they are doing it? Right?
- Decrease negative stress
With certainty, life is full of all kinds of stressors and stress is something that most of us face on the daily. As seen on Psychology Today, working in a dog-friendly environment may be able to lower negative stress and pressure among employees and a lot of companies like Amazon and Etsy have been following this practice. Another highly stressed out group are college students and when students at the University of British Columbia were given the opportunity to cuddle therapy dogs between sessions experienced a significant reduction in their stress levels and negative feelings and felt much happier.
To conclude, in addition to having the capacity to better our physical health, dogs are excellent pets because they can also better our mental health. Without doubt, they are the ideal pets because they offer their unconditional love, give our lives meaning and purpose, and teach us how to be more mindful and feel less stressed.
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