National Pet Month: How household furry friends can benefit your mental health
Now the clocks have sprung forward, we’re being treated to warmer days and lighter nights, with the spring and summer months providing a generally happier feeling to our lives.
This month, the first full month of this year’s British Summer Time, coincides with National Pet Month, which celebrates another aspect that can have a greatly positive impact on our mental health.
Here at Rippon Homes, we love to see people moving into our properties with their furry friends, and are outlining exactly how they can make such a difference to the way we feel and act.
Please feel free to send or post your favourite pet pictures to our social media channels and we will post a big bank across Facebook and Instagram.
Increased physical activity
With many household pets, making sure all of their needs are attended to routinely requires a lot of hard work, both mental and physical.
For example, with dogs, at least one walk per day is essential, and at minimum this requires over two hours of exercise per week that one might not otherwise undertake.
Not only that, but as many pet owners will understand, our animal companions need to sleep, and for that they need to be tired out by us!
Keeping them busy and engaged throughout the day is the best way to make sure their sleeping pattern matches ours and they don’t get us up throughout the night, which again keep us active and more likely to release serotonin.
Having a pet roaming around the house to care for can help in so many ways, not least by providing us with a sense of purpose and validation.
Our pets can increase feelings of safety and security, and are also somebody to spend the day and to have a one-way conversation with.
Through the friendship they provide, our domestic pets can help to combat feelings of loneliness, which are especially prevalent in the older population.
Having our furry friends depend on and look up to us can be incredibly rewarding, and encourage an enforced routine and structure to our lifestyle.
The relationship we have with our pets can vastly help with our social skills, with an extra person to talk to at home giving us an added dose of confidence to carry into the outside world.
For dog walkers, heading out on our routine walks will likely see us interact with other like-minded people who we have something in common with, and these regular conversations can only have a positive impact on our self-esteem.
And taking our furry friends to pet-specific clubs and activities will provide the same benefit, with being in a room with people of a similar mindset helping our confidence blossom.
A study conducted by Washington State University demonstrated that petting a cat or dog for just 10 minutes can reduce cortisol and therefore stress levels among us.
But it’s more than just petting our companions that can reduce stress – the lifestyle changes required to tend to their needs can all contribute to a clearer state of mind.
The purpose they add to our lives, the feeding, playing and walking routines, the confidence and exercise required to do so and the presence they provide are all reasons that our mental health can be better off with our animal companions.