Four Ways Pets Support Mental Health While Social Distancing
The stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may be causing or increasing mental health challenges for a lot of people. With many social interactions between people still limited, pets can be a powerful partner in keeping you healthy.
Overall, having a pet may help you get more fit, lower your stress, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, and even help you live longer. Beyond physical health, the bond between humans and their pets has been shown to provide emotional and mental well-being benefits, too. The American Heart Association shares four reasons pets could help our mental health, especially during the pandemic:
- Pets keep people active. Dog owners are more likely to get recommended physical activity than those who don’t have a dog. While social distancing is keeping people in their homes all day, pets give a reason to get outside, get some fresh air and get active.
- They can reduce work-related stress. About two out of three employees say work stresses them out, while 40% say their job gets in the way of their health, according to a Harris Poll. Studies show that pets in the workplace may help reduce stress, increase productivity (see No. 3) and improve employee satisfaction – even if today, your home is your workplace.
- Pets can help increase productivity, even in a video call. When a dog joins a collaborative setting – even if it’s a virtual meeting – group members rank their teammates higher in terms of trust, team cohesion and camaraderie. Time to get Fido online!
- They provide a sense of togetherness. The bond with a pet helps the owner feel less alone. When owners see, touch, hear or talk to their animals, it brings a sense of goodwill, joy, nurturing and happiness. These interactions even suppress stress hormones.
“If you’re feeling down or struggling with your mental health, your pet companion can help,” said Glenn Levine, MD, a volunteer medical expert for the American Heart Association. “Spend some time with them playing or just petting them. You may find that you feel better, and your pet will love the bonding time, too.”
One thing to remember: Especially if you have mobility challenges such as recovering from surgery, remember to stay safe when you’re out there walking the dog. To increase your lower body stability while walking, consider using walking sticks or poles. Poles also help reduce the impact on your legs, knees, ankles and feet.
As your partner in rehabilitation, CPT offers a Wellness Program that can help you live a healthy, happy life. Find more info here.
Source: The American Heart Association and IlluminAge Communication Partners.