Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Relaxing Time with Our Pets: 
How time with pets can lower Stress levels

Multiple studies have shown that owning a pet is associated with lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and relaxing the body.  There are several reason for this.  First, studies have suggested that petting a dog may release hormones in the body that make us feel good, while at the same time reducing the stress hormone cortisol.  In other studies, the belief is that because you get out and walk more if you own a pet, the exercise tends to release the same helpful hormones.  In addition, if you have a pet you may socialize more with the pet, thus exposing yourself to other people and putting yourself in the path of company and positive feedback from others, which can ward off loneliness.

If you don't have a pet and aren't sure if you are ready for one, try spending time with a friend's pet to see if you feel more relaxed while with the animal.  Many shelters welcome visitors who come in to visit and pet the animals awaiting adoption.  Some may even allow you to take the animal for walks or even home for a pet visit to see if you and the animal might be compatible for later adoption.

Nursing homes, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers have programs in which animals are brought in to visit with residents and patients who tend to find it soothing to spend time with them.  This is called Animal-Assisted Therapy and has been done with animals like cats and dogs.  There are also healing techniques used in which you can spend time with horses or dolphins in their environments in order to work out your own issues of trust, anxiety, and grief.

If you've had a rough day at the office, or are having elevated stress and anxiety due to other events in your life, be sure to set it all down once you get in the door at the end of the day and spend some quality time with your favorite pet.  You will both benefit from the special time together.

Thanks to Paree for the great photo of Chooki sitting on the windowsill