The Mental Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Research has found that more than half of all Americans own pets. They do so for different reasons, but one survey found that an impressive 86% of pet owners say their animals have helped their mental health.

This suggests that owning an animal may be an underrated component of an overall strategy for maintaining your mental health. But what exactly are these mental health benefits? 

We’ve put together this article to tell you. Keep reading to learn more.

Increased Physical Activity

The mental health benefits of physical activity are profound. Adults who receive at least 150 minutes of exercise per week can experience benefits like:

  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Overall enhancements in mood and well-being

The data shows that dog owners tend to get more exercise than non-dog owners. So, owning a dog increases your expected physical activity level and can lead to a number of positive mental health benefits as a result of that.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety

Interacting with animals has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in humans, which is a hormone connected to stress. Since stress is a common trigger for anxiety, having an animal in your home may help to bring down your anxiety symptoms.

Animals also serve as a form of emotional support. Their love can help a person deal with the symptoms of anxiety more effectively when they arise. 

But owning an animal may not always be enough to keep your anxiety and stress levels manageable. You may still need to take additional actions, such as exercising more often or speaking with a therapist if you’re experiencing more significant symptoms.

Reduction in Loneliness

Some researchers have also discovered that pet ownership is associated with reduced loneliness. Owning an animal is not a cure for isolation on its own, but it may help those experiencing loneliness to feel more supported.

That being said, loneliness can also be caused by more serious mental health issues. If you believe that you may be experiencing something like that, you may want to look into an affordable form of professional assistance, such as BetterHelp online therapy.

Improved Self-Esteem

There’s also evidence linking pet ownership to improved self-esteem. Research into why pet owners feel improved self-esteem is ongoing, but it may have something to do with the act of caring for an animal.

Positive self-esteem is an important part of mental health and well-being. When we feel good about ourselves, we’re less likely to abuse illicit substances and more likely to socialize with others – which can also help to improve a person’s mental health.

In Conclusion

Owning an animal isn’t a cure for serious mental health challenges. However, there are many studies and surveys that show people who own animals enjoy numerous mental health benefits, ranging from improved self-esteem to reduced stress and anxiety.

This suggests that pet ownership can play an ongoing role in supporting a person’s well-being, even if other actions also need to be taken for that person to achieve their mental health goals.

Stay Connected

Read On