Pets can improve your emotional health. They give unconditional love and are always happy to see you. They shower you with love and attention.
This is PART 2 in a series on How Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Overall Health
CLICK HERE for PART 1
Knowing that you have someone who loves you at home gives you a sense of security and stability. Even if the rest of your world is chaos at the moment, having a loving relationship—even if it’s with a pet—can keep you grounded enough to cope. People with loving relationships toward their pets (it doesn’t count if you find them to be a burden or nuisance) also are more likely to be more confident in their day-to-day lives and have higher self-esteem.
Here are some specific ways pets can improve your emotional health
- Being around animals improves your mood. Throw a ball for a dog. Pet a bunny. Watch a fish swim or a turtle mosey around. You’ll feel calmer and less frantic.
- Just interacting with a pet can decrease the stress-inducing hormone cortisol and increase the feel-good hormone serotonin. You already know (from what you read in PART 1 of this series) that owning a pet can lead lower blood pressure. But that’s especially true during times of high mental stress, when pet owners are more likely to keep a lid on their blood pressure. .
- Pets make you feel happy. You know that gooey feeling you get when you stare deeply into your pet’s eyes and it lovingly stares back? That triggers the same hormonal feedback loop that a mother and her newborn baby feel when they gaze at one another. This release of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, helps you bond to your pet and vice versa. It makes you feel happy, secure, and well. If you feel like your pet is your best friend—or even your child—now you know why.
- Growing up with a pet helps children develop empathy. Parents have long used pets to teach their children the responsibilities of physically taking care of someone else. Research shows that is just the start, because having a pet also improves kids’ emotional intelligence. The bonding hormones discussed above help children relate to a creature other than themselves. That helps kids learn to care for the feelings of their pet in addition to their physical needs. These lessons in empathy will help kids relate better to humans as they grow up. Children who have higher emotional intelligence tend to be more successful later in life.
PART 3 will discuss how Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Mental Health