I’m sure we can all agree that many of us are experiencing stress, anxiety, and even depression due to the global impact of covid-19. The isolation from social distancing has caused manyof us to miss the in-person social interaction with our support team of family, friends, or even therapist. However, we cannot forget man’s best friend, and especially during this time I recommend leaning on your furry companion to help get you through this.
Interacting with our animal companions affects us neurochemically, psychologically, and behaviorally. When engaging and playing with our furry friends, many rewarding and anti-stress chemicals are released in the brain such oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. Once these chemicals are released,they can help lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular health. Need a great listener?Our pets have great ears and talking to them can reduce stress by decreasing levels of cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine which are all stress hormones.
Petting and cuddling with our pets can help alleviate pain by boosting your body’s production of endorphins, which ultimately triggers the release of chemicals that act like painkillers and produce euphoria. Talking to and cuddling with your pets can improve your overall psychological state. It can even have behavioral effects; walking with our animal companion motivates our willingness to exercise, increases our willingness to join in activities, making you happier, lessening depression, improving your outlook on life, decreasing loneliness and isolation by giving you a companion, improving motivation, reducing boredom, and reducing anxiety.
Regardless if you are a dog person or not you can still receive all of these positive effects.
Perhaps you are a cat, fish, bearded dragon, horse, etc. person. Listen to your cat purr, watch your fish, talk to your bearded dragon, or ride your horse is still going to ease your mind, soothe your soul and release those positive neurochemicals in your brain. The key here is the bond between human and animal companion, because your animal companion can give you an unconditional non-judgmental relationship which provides you a safe place to process your emotions. Whether you are sick, stressed or just trying to process this new quarantine life your pet will not judge you, but they will be there for you.
**There is currently no evidence that shows dogs can contract covid-19 so you don’t have to practice social distancing with your furry companion. **