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Mental Health Awareness Week - How dogs can help!

Mental Health Benefits of Owning a Dog

Most people are aware of the joys that come along with sharing companionship with a dog. However, not everyone is aware of the mental health benefits that can accompany the happiness you feel when you are snuggled up with your furry friend. A loyal pet, especially a dog, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Dogs also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, a dog can add real happiness and unconditional love to your life.

In many ways, dogs can help us to live healthier lives.

  • Increasing Exercise - Taking a dog for a walk, hike, or run is a fun and rewarding way to fit healthy exercise into your daily schedule. Dog owners are more likely to reach their daily exercise goals, and daily exercise is great for your dog as well!

  • Reducing Anxiety - The companionship of your dog can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence. Because pets tend to live in the moment, they can help you become more mindful and appreciate the joys of the present.

  • Providing Companionship - Companionship can help prevent illness and can even add years to your life. Caring for a dog can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. Nothing beats loneliness like coming home to a happy pet!

  • Keeping a Routine - As we all know dogs require a routine. Having a consistent routine keeps a balanced and calm and it can work for you, too. No matter your mood - depressed, anxious, or stressed - one plaintive look from your dog and you’ll have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for them.

Your dog can be a great source of comfort, companionship, and motivation for you. Dogs especially are great at encouraging exercise, and this can be beneficial if you suffer from depression. Dogs can also have calming effects on their owner. Just stroking, sitting with, or playing with a dog can give you a chance to relax and calm your mind. Caring for a dog gives your day a purpose and reward which in turn can help you feel valuable and needed

Five Mental health benefits of Dogs, According to Science

1) A dog provides unconditional love - Unconditional love is non-judgement. A dog will love you no matter what. They're unwavering in their loyalty to humans, rain or shine, they will be there for you. They won't judge you if you fail, they do not care what you look like, and they will not judge you for being you - this loyalty is unconditional love.

Unconditional love is enormously beneficial to your mental health. It is a basic psychological need. we simply cannot thrive without it. The stability that comes from unconditional love can improve your life. The benefits include increased self-esteem and a greater sense of purpose.

2) Dogs force us to be sociable

Dogs are social creatures (my Gilbert being an exception but he is learning) and it doesn't take them long to make friends, they can be a real ice breaker and a great topic of conversation, there are ALOT of dog lovers in the work.

Meaningful social interactions are great for your mental health. Social interaction lightens your mood, lowers your risk of dementia, gives you a sense of belonging and eases loneliness.

3) Dog reduce depression and anxiety

While dogs aren't a 'cure all' solution the mental health benefits of a dog are undeniable.

Studies reveal that playing with a dog can release oxytocin and dopamine which promotes positive emotions. Research has also shown that dogs alleviate systems of stress, depression and anxiety. Petting a dog can stop stress responses in our brains lowers blood pressure and heart rate and increase serotonin and dopamine

4) Dogs will increase your daily physical activity

Dogs need to be walked and require regular exercise, which means owners need to go with them

Dog owners tend to have more daily physical exercise than people that do not have a dog.

All this exercise is terrific for your mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Physical exercise can help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and premature deaths which can all affect your mental health. Exercise produces endorphins and enkephalins also known as the feel-good hormones. Not only that but exercising with your dog will redirect your focus and take you ming elsewhere, it allows you to stop back and calm-down

5) Dogs give you a sense of purpose

When you own a dog, you are responsible for the life of another being. You become accountable in a way you might not if you were taking care of yourself.

Responsibility - promotes healthy mental wellbeing

Taking care of a dog's needs shows that you are capable of taking care of another life. You build skills from being responsible for your canine friend, which develops your self-confidence and shows that you can be independent.

The altruism that you experience as a dog owner promotes healthy habits and improves overall mental health and wellbeing

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