For mental health awareness week, we wanted to highlight the important part that our pets play in helping us manage and maintain our emotional wellbeing. Around one in four of us live with mental health issues, and our pets can help to give us purpose, get us exercising and feel more relaxed. Just by being around, pets can alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness.
For many of us, our pets are our best friends, giving us their friendship, loyalty and love, without conditions or judgement. A survey by the Blue Cross found that nearly 60% of owners with mental health issues said that their pets “love and loyalty” and “companionship” were the aspect of ownership that helped them the most. The strong bond that many of us have with our pets can be a lifeline that supports us through tough times and helps us to be less lonely. Pets can truly transform our lives for the better, with their companionship, unconditional love and supportive positive energy.
Giving us purpose
Our pets give us a reason to get up each day. They rely on us for food, water, regular exercise and our love and attention. Many pets provide us with a daily routine that gives us a structure and purpose, and sometimes it’s the little things that make up a regular schedule that gets us through a day.
Getting us out and exercising
Some of our pets require daily exercise, and getting out and about, placing one foot in front of the other, and moving forwards, especially in green spaces, can make a big difference to our mental health. Daily outdoor walks can reduce stress and boost our physical and emotional wellbeing. Going for walks with our pets can also be a great way to start conversations, often providing a common ground or icebreaker that gets us talking to others, helping us to tackle loneliness.
Reducing our stress
Stroking and spending time with our pets can help us feel more relaxed and reduce our anxieties. Having that physical connection with our pets can help to lower levels of certain stress hormones and increase the hormones that make us feel good when we’re around the ones we love.
Mental Health Awareness Week
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May 2022) focuses on loneliness. Dealing with loneliness can be difficult and the Mental Health Foundation has help and advice on how to cope with loneliness and improve our mental health.