This past year has been extremely stressful for everyone, but where would any of us be without our pets?
Having a pet at home during this past year was like a salve on a wound. You could talk to them, you could care for them, and they added some routine and normalcy when everything felt upside down. Pets are simply the best. If this past year has shown us anything it’s how important our animals are to our families. In fact, there’s research to back it up: during difficult times, dogs make us feel better.
1.) Pets can “mood boost” our mental health.
It might not be any surprise that dogs ward off feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Simply petting a dog or playing with one can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax your body. Oxytocin is another hormone at play in human-pet bonding. This is that “love,” “hug,” and “cuddle” hormone you may have heard about between babies and their mothers and our social behaviors.
2.) We all benefit from a little structure.
Most dogs like to know what time their walks will be and when they’ll be eating dinner. Their daily routine can be helpful to us. Consistency helps keep us stable and calm.
3.) They got us outside in the fresh air.
Dogs require daily walks and increased exercise is good for all of us. While you’re upping your step count you’re not only improving your overall cardiovascular health, possibly striking up (socially distanced) conversations with fellow dog walkers, soaking up some vitamin D, but you’re deepening the connection between you and your dog.
There’s also a valuable lesson in walking: there’s power in simply putting one foot in front of the other.