One would assume that in the hustle and bustle of today's busy world, the last thing we need for our mental health is adding something else to our lives. We need to simplify, minimize, reduce, right? Isn't that the key to controlling stress and thus improving our mental health? Not necessarily. Not if the thing that we are adding grants to us abundant positive influences on a mental and emotional level. This is precisely what adding a dog to your life has the potential to do. Consider the following proven rewards of dog ownership:
DOGs Always Love You
Relationships with people can be...let's say "challenging." The complexities of inter-human relations can, at times, be both draining and discouraging. While it would be "socially unacceptable" to abandon entirely our often frustrating bipedal companions, there are few things as comforting as earning and enjoying the unconditional love of a pet. No matter what burdens the day has set upon our shoulders, no matter what blunders we might have made at work, no matter how much of a disaster our latest diet plan has been, a pet will always love us!
DOGS ARE SUPER ENTERTAINING
Life can sometimes take on all the earmarks of a soap opera. It's no wonder that Charles Dickens said, "When happiness shows up, always give it a comfortable seat." He said this because happiness doesn't show up as often as we might like it too. But nearly every dog is gifted with an amazing power: the power to do things that make us laugh and smile. Hello dopamine! I see you oxytocin! It's all free (with purchase of qualified four-legged friend.)
Whether he's falling asleep with his legs up in the air, or getting very confused at the introduction of a very ordinary object, or even just existing, pets can provide the guffaws we need to make life just a little bit easier. True, some "pet moments" are less than laughable, but these are nothing that a decent home owner's policy or a professional carpet cleaning can't handle. And, after all, the laughs will far outweigh the stresses!
DOGS Keep You Moving
Research has abundantly demonstrated the relationship between inactivity and negative mental health. Owning a dog (or other pet that walks and does things) can provide a powerful antidote to the lethargic tendencies of our society. Loving play, daily walks and the abundant outdoor exercise a pet such as a dog requires will benefit not only your animal companion, but you as well. If you get your body moving, your mind and soul will reap the benefits!
DOGS Don't Let You Wallow
Self-knowledge is important, but self-absorption can be destructive. An all-too-common way that human beings deal with the stresses and disappointments of life is by withdrawal. It's all-too-easy to respond to grief or anxiety by locking our door, closing our curtains and throwing ourselves into a 10-day Netflix binge. But dogs require attention and care. A dog can provide the impetus that we need to get off the couch, turn off the TV and look after somebody other than ourselves.
Dogs force us to take walks (seriously, the puppy eyes are very persuasive), to shop for food, to play. A dog may even inadvertently help us to talk to a person or two in the healthy sunshine. Dog park for the win! WebMD, in an article discussing the ability of pets to empower our mental health, asserts that the responsibilities required by pet ownership, rather than being a drain, are a huge plus in helping people combat the symptoms of depression.
While animal companions come with challenges, the potential joys that our animal friends bring into our lives make them worthwhile. Truly, when it comes to our mental well-being, inviting a pet into our lives may be just what the doctor ordered!
I hope you're convinced! Remember to consider adopting a rescue pet from an awesome local shelter or rescue group! If you're in Southern Utah visiting any of the National Parks, go check out the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
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