There are times when my elderly cat is desperately trying to get my attention at 4am that I wonder why I have pets. In those tired moments, when I am annoyed, I remind myself of the benefits of keeping pets.
Stroking a pet releases oxytocin.
The love of a pet is real. I do question if my cat is a psychopath that is using me but then I just remind myself that he has 5 other homes he has manipulated into feeding him and yet he chooses to return to me. Therefore, the evidence suggests that even if he isn’t loving me I at least am useful to him and I love him for that reason. Feeling love or stroking a pet releases oxytocin.
Oxytocin is commonly referred to as the cuddle hormone. It builds the bond between you and your pet. It also has a heap of health benefits. It lowers your blood pressure, which in turn improves cardiovascular health and reduces stress, it can reduce social anxiety improving your confidence in social situations. Research has shown increased oxytocin is particularly beneficial if you have irritable bowel syndrome or autism. Oxytocin can improve sleep, which is just as well given that my cat wakes me up twice every night. If you are feeling disconnected from people oxytocin has also been shown to reduce homesickness and loneliness.
Having a pet means you are more likely to spend more time outdoors: Whether you are walking the dog, going out to get pet food, or standing outside calling your cat in you are out in the great outdoors. Being outside has a whole host of health benefits. People who spend time outdoors have higher levels of vitamin D which helps you absorb calcium in your diet; this helps with bone and muscle health. A deficiency in Vitamin D can correlate with stress and anxiety.
As well as an increase in vitamins the health benefits of being outdoors are strengthened by feeling connected. When outdoors you are more likely to meet people. If you walk your dog at the same time each day you are bound to bump into the same people walking their pets.
When it comes to doing daily tasks we can procrastinate or not prioritise our own self-care. We know that it’s important to meet our pets needs and ensure they have food, water, a clean place to sleep and an opportunity to use the toilet. By looking after our pet through practical tasks it can then kick start us into doing the jobs we put off. If you are washing up the food bowl you might as well crack on and do the rest of the dishes. These jobs that you used to procrastinate from can soon become habits as you start to associate one task with another.
There is obvious exercise such as walking or walking with a dog. There are specific running groups such as canine cross which teach you hot to get fit with your pet. As well as the obvious exercise there are more subtle ways that you become more active. Each time you get slightly out of breath whilst you play with your pet or you lift some heavy food tines or cat litter you are doing exercise and the best bit is it doesn’t feel like a slog at the gym. The health benefits of exercise are endless, your heart and lungs will function more effectively, you will boost your immune system, you will be less likely to have falls and recover quickly from injuries. Exercise has also been shown to reduce depression and anxiety.
A pet adoring you is going to make you feel wanted. Aside form the love a pet brings the roles that they create for you can make your confidence soar. This animal is completely reliant on you for his or her welfare. They are going to place you in the centre of their world and you will be learning new skills in how to look after and train your pet. Every success you have will help you feel more and more confident.
She is always happy to be contacted if you want to find out more.