PETS & ANIMALS — Dogs can provide a sense of comfort for their pet parents, and spending time together can help create a strong bond, reduce stress and positively impact mental health.
In fact, according to a survey from Mars Petcare, one in three pet parents got a new pet during the pandemic, with 36% saying they did so to avoid or alleviate depression. In another survey, 1 in 4 pet owners said they got a pet to improve their mental health.
Often, the best life is shared between pets and their pet parents, so in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some ways that dogs can help improve mental health.
1. Stick to a Schedule
Having a dog can help establish a routine in your everyday life. From walks to mealtimes, maintaining the schedule of caring for a pet can help you feel more organized. It also provides simple, yet important, items to check off your daily to-do list, giving you a sense of accomplishment.
2. Enjoy the Fresh Air
As the weather warms up, it’s a great time to start doing more outdoor activities with your pup, like taking long walks together and visiting the dog park or other pet-friendly areas. These adventures can give you opportunities to enjoy the fresh air, take a break and clear your mind.
3. Work with a Canine Coworker
As returning to the office becomes more of a reality, many people are realizing the comfort and mental health benefits they’ve received from having their dogs by their side over the last two years at home can also be true in the office. According to a recent survey, pet parents believe that working alongside dogs in the office can boost happiness (58%) and relieve anxiety or stress (57%).
4. Snuggle Up
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s nice to take some time to sit back and relax. For many people, snuggling up with a pet can make that down time even more enjoyable and comforting. Having that physical connection with your dog can help keep you calm and recenter you on even the most stressful of days. Research has even shown that adults with pets have healthier physiological responses to stress, including lower baseline heart rate and blood pressure. Grab a good book or turn on your favorite television show with your four-legged friend by your side for some quality cuddle time to help unwind.
5. Be Active Together
From playing fetch at the dog park to walking around your neighborhood, having a dog can provide plenty of opportunities to stay active. This exercise releases endorphins that trigger positive feeling in the body, which can help improve your mood. You and your dog can both benefit from the exercise, physically and mentally.
6. Keep Smiling
Dogs have a way of making people feel happy and can be great best friends to rely on for comfort. From lovingly resting their heads on your lap to the funny noises they make, dogs make their owners smile with their loveable quirks, playful personalities and mood-boosting abilities.