Animals and Mental Health

While many factors can play a role in the effects of mental health, animals can have a significant impact on our overall well-being. Not everyone is an animal person. However, animals can provide a variety of benefits for those struggling with mental health disorders.

The Benefits of Animals

Having a pet can help individuals with mental health disorders feel that they have a companion. Pets are often full of unconditional love that humans are not always able to show. Having a pet show you this form of commitment and companionship can help lower blood pressure and reduce levels of cortisol released into the body. Cortisol is a chemical that relates to stress. The support received from an animal can help individuals with mental health disorders not feel alone and feel less stressed in their day-to-day lives. 

Family Support

As well as helping individuals through mental health disorders, animals can also provide support to the family system. By establishing care for another being, the family structure can work together to properly provide for the animal. Having pets can help children improve their social interactions at a young age and develop a sense of responsibility for caring for another being.

Sense of Purpose

Feeling responsible for the well-being of an animal can also help provide you with a sense of purpose. Many individuals who struggle with mental health disorders struggle to understand their purpose and find meaning in life. Caring for an animal can help them feel needed and show them hands-on how their support affects the lives of other beings. It also provides you with a form of companionship, which can significantly help relieve feelings of loneliness.

Physical Activity

Pets, especially dogs, often require a certain level of physical activity. This need can help encourage owners to engage in exercise and maintain their physical health. Even getting outside to take a dog on a walk or to go out to the bathroom can help people get outside and avoid self-isolation. If you struggle to get outside and exercise on your own, having an animal can provide you with this opportunity as a necessity, which can end up being a beneficial habit.

Appreciation of Life

Animals have a different way of life than human beings but also have many similarities. By learning about the charismatic nature of animals and the world surrounding us, we can open our eyes to the beauty that life has to offer. By paying attention to the life structure and simple behaviors of animals, you may find qualities that you resemble yourself. It can be interesting to compare the behavior of animals compared to humans, as we are more similar than most perceive.

Understand Your Perception

While animals and pets can bring a multitude of positive emotions into play, it is essential to consider your overall feelings toward animals. If you are often afraid of animals or fear the responsibility of owning a pet, jumping into getting one is likely not the right decision. If you find yourself in this mindset, try to work toward a small appreciation for animals in nature. You do not need to have a pet to feel the positive mental effects of animals in your surroundings. 

Learning to accept the lives of other creatures and coming to appreciate them can help give you a sense of belonging in this world. Appreciation of your surroundings and the concept of life itself can positively affect your overall mental well-being. A significant portion of our mental well-being is based on our thought processes and the ways we view reality. Opening your appreciation for the beautiful creatures surrounding us can help improve your mental health drastically.

Negative Effects of Animals

While animals can have a significant impact on us, for a few individuals, that impact can be negative. Past circumstances or memories of animals attacking or inflicting emotional pain can cause individuals to relate them to these negative thoughts and feelings. 

While certain animals may always bring upon some of these feelings, it is essential not to categorize all animals as one. You may have been attacked by a dog but never harmed by a bird. Find appreciation in other aspects of animal lives that you feel are easier to relate to personally.

If you choose to have a pet, it is important to require that the animal you select is a good fit for you. If you feel you need a calm and supportive companion, a high-energy independent dog may not benefit your emotional state in the way you anticipated. Do your research before looking into owning a pet, and ensure you are working with an animal that will provide you with the benefits you desire.

Animals surround our environment and have a significant impact on our overall mental health. Some people love being around animals, while others may fear them. There are many positive attributes that animals can bring into our lives that help to improve our mental health. Having a pet can help improve your mental health, overall lifestyle, and family structure. Animals in nature can have a positive impact as well. They can also help you feel a sense of belonging and purpose, improving your mental state and viewpoints on life altogether. SokyaHealth is here to help those struggling with their mental health and wellness. With over 100 years of combined experience, we have helped thousands of individuals find a balance of mind, body, and spirit through evidence-based western approaches and complementary therapies from around the globe. For more information on our services, call SokyaHealth today at 800-930-0803 and (866) 65-SOKYA.

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