Depression, stress, and anxiety are three of the most common mental health issues Americans deal with today. It’s important to seek medical help if you always feel depressed or if you constantly deal with high levels of anxiety. Luckily, dogs have a way of helping those who deal with stress, depression, and anxiety. Hanging out with a dog can change the way you feel, think, and act, all for the better. Let’s look at three ways dogs can help your mental health.
They Give You Unconditional Love
We all know of the “love hormone” oxytocin, right? Research has shown that this feel-good chemical gets released any time we pet a dog. Oxytocin is the chemical that promotes attachment, making it one of the most fundamental elements of a relationship. If you are dealing with stress or anxiety, simply petting a dog will release this hormone practically every time. A dog will give you nothing but love and affection right back to you, something you won’t always get when you are trying to explain your thoughts to your family and friends.
Studies have shown when schools host a dog benefit, the students improve on their reading, and writing skills. It’s easier for children, if anyone, to learn and grow when they have a loving dog at their side, showing them affection.
They Make Us Get Up and Go
No matter the age, gender, or breed, dogs need exercise. You may get away with a quick walk around the block, or your dog may be the type to enjoy a rough hike up a nearby mountain. Having to get out and participate in daily exercise routines can help you take a step away from those feelings of depression and anxiety. When you exercise, feel-good chemicals called endorphins are released into your brain. Since you may have been neglecting your own needs due to your mental health concerns, a dog will force you to get up and moving. Soon, you will be the one pushing your dog to get up and out of the house as you begin to feel better about yourself, and life.
They Give Us a Sense Of Structure and Stability
It’s easy to forget to eat healthy meals or drink enough water when we are stressed out, depressed, and anxious about our issues. This is where a dog can give you a real reason to pull yourself out of a funk to take care of another living thing. Your dog will need to be fed, watered, walked, groomed, and generally just taken care of. This makes you feel needed, a powerful way to make you feel better about your place in the world.
Using a dog to find purpose in a crazy world is simply one reason to check into owning one. You’ll find that a dog gives you the unconditional love you may have been searching for, along with many other health benefits you didn’t know could be helped by a pup.
About the Author:
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.