There are many events or occurrences in life that cause us to freak out, upset us or even induce panic attacks, and many more of us suffer from debilitating mental illnesses. While some of us know how to help heal ourselves in the event of a tragedy, stressful event, or when we’re feeling mentally drained, others simply do not know where to turn, or who to turn to.
The healing power of pets has long been known, many attributing it to having a living creature in your life that depends upon you for survival, and who will be at your side unconditionally. For some, a pet can be no substitute for the love and support of a human, while for others, the simplicity and stabilising power of caring for a pet, can help see them through the hard times.
How can a pet help to heal you?
There are many scientifically proven ways in which owning a pet can have a positive impact on your health, and some of these include:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing anxiety
- Minimizing the risk of developing heart disease
- Decrease cortisol levels (a damaging stress hormone)
While the simple act of walking a dog or playing peek-a-boo with your cat can help to make you feel good and lower your stress levels, the bond that is shared between you and your pet is also proven to be an important element of the healing process. Having a pet that relies solely upon you for their ultimate survival can give you a strong sense of purpose and belonging and can help encourage feelings of positivity while minimising any mental or physical discomfort that you might be experiencing.
The same can be said when you are trying to recover after the loss of a loved one, with the grieving process often being strengthened by the healing power of a pet.
Then there is the simple but powerful act of physically stroking a pet, which can help boost your Oxytocin levels, the hormone that promotes love and trust, and which is often linked to lowering blood pressure and heart rates. The same applies for other interactions with a pet, such as playing or challenging them to find a hidden object and helps to build and strengthen upon the bond between owner and pet.
It may not be important to understand the science behind the healing power of pets, but it might encourage those who are sceptical about it, to try it for themselves. I’m certain that those of us who already own pets, know full well how much they can enrich our lives, and when we are tired, angry or upset, it’s often our pets we turn to for comfort.