How Animals Can Help Manage Stress
Turning to animals as a form of therapy is nothing new; humans have been interacting with animals since the dawn of time. But how can these furry, feathered, or scaly friends help us deal with stress and anxiety? The companionship of animals offers a multitude of emotional and physical health benefits. Their simple presence in our lives can provide a powerful form of stress relief, contributing significantly to our mental and physical well-being. Here are just a few of the ways that animals can aid in reducing stress:
Animals, particularly dogs, can offer emotional support, enriching the therapy process. They can sense emotions and respond with unconditional love, which assists in creating a safe and supportive environment.
They’re non-judgmental and accept us for who we are, which can help boost our self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.
Improved communication skills
Animals can serve as a non-threatening medium for those with communication difficulties to facilitate conversation and interaction.
The presence of animals can motivate people to participate more fully in their therapy sessions, encouraging active engagement.
Improved physical health
Engaging with animals often involves physical activity, such as petting, walking, or grooming them, which helps improve motor skills, balance, and coordination.
Many pets, particularly dogs, encourage physical activity.
Regular walks or playtime can lead to increased exercise, which is an effective stress reliever and contributes to overall physical health. Exercise promotes the production of endorphins, our body’s natural ‘feel-good’ hormones, which can enhance our mood and energy levels.
The sense of achievement and responsibility that comes from caring for an animal can significantly enhance self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. Having a pet also creates a routine, providing a sense of purpose and accomplishment that can positively impact our mental well-being.
Feeding them, caring for their grooming needs, or simply playing with them can instill a sense of structure and responsibility in our daily lives. This often results in a shift of focus from self to others, promoting an outward perspective that can help alleviate negative thoughts and feelings.
Reduced feelings of isolation
The companionship of animals can alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation, fostering a sense of connection and belonging.
How to incorporate animals into your routine
There are numerous ways to find comfort in animals, even if pet ownership isn’t currently possible for you. Visiting local shelters and farms or participating in animal-assisted therapy programs are valuable opportunities to enjoy the animal company and reap the therapeutic benefits they offer. Nature also offers us a wonderful, stress-relieving retreat. Simple activities like bird watching in a park, observing squirrels play, or even watching fish swim in an aquarium encourage mindfulness. These moments of presence help you to slow down, appreciate the natural world, and significantly reduce stress levels.
While interaction with animals can be a powerful stress reliever, it’s important to remember that it isn’t a substitute for professional mental health support. Animals provide a comforting and calming influence that helps manage daily stress, but if you’re dealing with severe mental health conditions, please consider finding a therapist near you.
At Serene Health, we understand the importance of proper mental health support and believe everyone deserves access to quality, compassionate care and behavioral health and mental health services. That’s why we offer a variety of services – from telehealth appointments to Personalized repetitive transcranial stimulation (PrTMS)- designed to help you maintain your mental health and well-being. So take comfort in animals whenever you can, but don’t forget to reach out when you need a helping hand. Our experienced and compassionate team is here for you. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment.