Six ways in which cats and dogs can relieve stress
By Dr Margit Gabriele Muller
A study found that people working on a stressful task felt significantly less stressed when their pets were with them, as opposed to a spouse, family member, or close friend. Nothing heals and relaxes us better than talking to our two-or four legged companions without any fear that they will judge us. When we are talking to our pets, we get rid of our problems, worries and pain.
Even our hormone levels get positively affected by the deep-rooted bond with our pets. After just five minutes of cuddling our pet, the ‘happy’ hormone dopamine, ‘wellbeing’ hormone endorphin and ‘love’ hormone oxytocin are all excreted more. These increased hormonal levels lead to stress reduction.
Lower blood pressure
Owners of adopted dogs showed significantly reduced systolic blood pressure compared with people who did not adopt dogs.
However, you do not have to play with a pet to significantly lower your blood pressure. Even watching fish in a tank versus a bare wall for 30 minutes will do the trick!
Daily walkies with your dog are a perfect way to get rid of stress by improving cardiovascular health, research found that dog owners live longer after a heart attack than non-dog owners.
Do you spend sleepless nights worrying? If the answer is yes – then get a pet! A study showed that 56% of pet owners allow their pets to sleep in the bedroom. Of those, 41% do not feel disturbed by their pets and claim to have even slept better. Sleep seems to improve more when a pet is in the bedroom, but generally not in the bed itself.
Less chance of depression
Stress over a long period of time can increase the risk of developing depression if you don’t have proper coping mechanism in place. Pets in general have been shown to be effective antidotes to depression due to their ability to reduce our stress levels. The same applies to mood swings and negative thinking.
If you feel pain and are in desperate need of a painkiller – turn to your pet! Even five minutes with a dog or cat increases our level of endorphins. Endorphins are natural hormones produced by the body that have a similar chemical structure to morphine; they are therefore considered natural painkillers. Their function is to activate opioid receptors in the brain, thus reducing pain.