The benefits of having a pet on mental health - GulfToday

The benefits of having a pet on mental health

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Having pets around has proven to beneficial for our mental health.

Aisha Hamad AlMidfa

As lockdown eases one thing that might remain the same is the role pets play in our lives. There has been a growing recognition of the beneficial functions that pets can play in relation to mental health.

The effects of owning a pet have proven to be robust for mental wellbeing in particular, which is seen, especially during the lockdown.

Studies on mental health have found that interacting with a pet reduces stress-related hormones, such as cortisol, which can be helpful for those struggling with anxiety. The release of too much cortisol in the bloodstream is inadequate; therefore, animals can slightly aid in reducing that. 

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A dog that serves as pet. Photo credit: Lamees Al Sawan. 

Additionally, children dealing with anxiety and stress have proven to benefit from being around pets according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The act of caring for another living thing, a pet, gives many a sense of purpose and meaning. As for the elderly, caring for a pet has shown to reduce loneliness.

Furthermore, pets have been proven to focus on the current moment, which can help those around it to become more mindful. Mindfulness is a psychological process whereby one focuses on the present moment without inflecting any self-judgement. 

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Pets help children dealing with anxiety and stress. 

Owning a pet may also increase physical activity because many tend to adopt new habits to accommodate their pet’s needs, such as going on regular walks.

“During quarantine and even before that my cat has always kept me company, which made the change to lockdown feel seamless. Also, I really appreciate the effort my cat shows in trying to comfort me when something is wrong, either by sitting on my lap or sleeping close by,” said Shamma Abdalla, an AUS student.

“Being accompanied by an animal during a global pandemic provided me with solace. I believe until one has learned to love and care for an animal, a part of their soul remains unawakened,” said Hamda Al Shuweihi, a UAE resident.

Aisha is an intern with Gulf Today. She covers the Emirati community, culture, and food.

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