It’s no secret your pet is cute, sweet and endlessly entertaining. But did you know your favorite furball can be much more than just an adorable source of fun and games? He or she can have a positive impact on your mood as well. Here’s a look at how pets help with depression, anxiety and stress.
You already know that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from stroking your pet’s fur or playing a game of fetch together. Regardless of the activity, interacting with your pet signals your brain to pump out higher levels of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin — hormones that play a role in helping you feel happy and relaxed.
In the moment, that flood of hormones leaves you feeling calmer, less anxious and less stressed. But sharing life with an animal seems to help people feel happier in the long-term, too. In fact, studies show that dog owners tend to be less depressed than people who don’t own pets. The reasons why are plenty.
Motivates You to Be Active
Having a dog, specifically, forces you to spend more time walking and more time outside, two things that are known to deliver a potent mood boost.
When researchers surveyed dog owners in the United Kingdom, the majority of participants said that walking their dogs gave them a better sense of well-being and helped them feel happier.
Helps You Make More Friends
Not only does having a dog increase your chances to go outside, it gives you more opportunities to socialize. Meeting new people you connect to (and bond over your pets with) can help you out of your funk if you’re feeling blue or stressed.
It’s easy to see why dog-walking increases social interaction: Most people just can’t resist stopping to say hi to your pooch, and plenty of folks find it easier to chat with strangers when their furry friend is by their side.
Gives You a Sense of Purpose
Even if your pet doesn’t have to be taken out for a walk, he or she still relies on you for his or her daily care and feedings. And findings suggest that this sense of responsibility and purpose contributes to your overall well-being, too.
Knowing you’re needed makes you feel less isolated and alone in the world. Plus, if you’re stressed about work or your family, caring for a pet provides a distraction or respite from your worries.
So the next time your furry friend comes nuzzling over when you’re feeling down, give an extra-long belly rub or scratch on the chin. Considering all that your pet does, he or she more than deserves it!
How does your pet make you feel happier and less stressed? Let us know by commenting below!
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.