Whether you’re on Team Cats or Team Dogs, furry pals always brighten up our day (unless they’re shredding the curtains or peeing on the rug). There are a lot of subtle reasons why pets make us happy, and you may not even realize the effects they have on you. While you may think they’re just cute and that makes you smile, pets have actually been show to help with mental health issues like depression and PTSD. Here’s why:
1. Unconditional Love
This one may seem obvious, but the unwavering friendship our pets offer is crucial to our feelings of self-worth. They never brood or shut us out or hold a grudge. Even though some aren’t as prone to cuddling as others, when they grace us with their presence they relish our touch.
Pets can often sense when we are sad, or physically hurt, and rather than mock us for not pulling ourselves together, they lay in our laps or lick our wounds. And they’re always present with us, not asking for much in return. Which is more than we can say for many of even our closest human friends.
2. Physical Touch
Many hospitals bring in therapy dogs for their patients to touch, because physical contact raises levels of oxytocin (the “happiness drug”) in people. And knowing that our touch makes another creature happy is an uplifting experience as well.
Having something warm and soft to cuddle with whenever we like is an obvious treat, and helps us to feel like we’re building a bond with someone that loves us. And that feeling is only multiplied when we’re overrun by furry friends! If you have a puppy of your own, try taking them to a dog park where you can both meet tons of new pals.
Perhaps one of the less expected benefits of having animals around is the responsibility it instills in us. Not the kind that comes with paying bills and cleaning dishes that feels thankless and exhausting. In a lot of cases we take better care of our pets than we do ourselves because we know that they depend on us, and haven’t done anything to deserve neglect.
And being responsible is also good for our mental health, even when it seems like a chore. It helps us to feel accomplished and productive. Much like the joy that parenting brings to many people, taking care of a pet helps us to manifest our love towards someone (or something) in a way that lifts us up as well.
Of course, pets aren’t for everybody. Many of us are allergic, or can’t afford it. And for those of us there is actually a lot of joy to be had from tending a garden or even taking care of one plant. The purpose is to have something that we care for and can watch grow into good health through our actions.
And if you don’t have a green thumb either, give us a call! We’ll help you begin one of the many other forms of therapy we specialize in, and get you back on track to personal happiness.