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Pets and Mental Health

How having a pet can help those suffering with their mental health

Covid 19

During the pandemic many of us have struggled with lethargy, low moods and anxiety about our livelihoods, our lifestyles and our wellbeing.

Through social distancing and isolation regulations we have all experienced loneliness and boredom which can both have a huge impact on our mental wellbeing.

This post explores how it is that our pets can help us through hard times.

Companionship

During a time when many of us are working from home and are lacking in social contact our pets have been amazing companions. Even during furlough the responsibility of having a pet provides us with the necessity and energy to get ourselves out of bed in the morning and care for them - after all they rely on us. But the funny thing is, we need them as much as they need us. To feel loved and needed can brighten our days and did you know that stroking your pet is proven to have a calming effect? It reduces our heart rate and our anxiety. So if you are feeling that everything is a little too much, take some time out to have a little cuddle with your furry friend. Playing with your pet has also been shown to boost serotonin levels - our brain's 'happy chemical' so if you are feeling a little low pick up that toy and throw it for your retriever or find that string toy and play around with your cat.

Humans have a natural need for sociality and contact and our pets are a great way to fulfil that need while we are isolated from others.

Routine

Many of us are aware that come breakfast or dinner time our pets are waiting patiently looking at us with those puppy eyes or rubbing against our legs. The routine that you give your pets also provides you with a routine and routine can reduce stress levels. A routine provides structure to our day as well as theirs and this is beneficial to the wellbeing of both us and our pets.

Dogs

During the pandemic exercise was originally allowed for one hour a day and those with dogs know how important this exercise is both to their dog's wellbeing and their own. Exercise is a great way to boost a low mood and a walk with our furry friends gives us a chance to socialise with other walkers and dog owners, even if it is at a distance!

An anonymous quotation from someone suffering with their mental health during lockdown:

Having my dogs during lockdown has been a life-saver, quite literally. Hearing them awake in the mornings gets me out of bed to feed them and then as soon as I put my trainers on they just look at me waiting for their walk. Some days the last thing I want to do is get up and take them out, but every day I do it because I love them and I know that they need me. Doing this has actually forced me to exercise and socialise on walks, when they stop to meet their companions we are forced into conversations with their owners and these small conversations and the contact it provides has sometimes changed my day around.

Pets are quite literally our best friends and having them around can have such a vital impact on our mental wellbeing. So The Grange Retreat are sending our love to all those pets in lockdown that have helped get their owner's through tough times.

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