The coronavirus pandemic has been stressful in so many ways, and there is still no end in sight. Use your beloved pets to ease anxiety and feel like your old self again!
New research shows pets are linked to maintaining better mental health, reducing loneliness during lockdown, and acting as a fluffy buffer against psychological stress during the lockdown.
The study from the University of York and the University of Lincoln in the UK Human-animal relationships and interactions during the Covid-19 lockdown phase in the UK: investigating links with mental health and loneliness was published in September in the journal PLOS ONE. It found that having at least one pet to “hold” your hand during these challenging times can be hugely beneficial not only to your mental wellbeing but your physical and emotional wellbeing, too.
More than 90 percent of respondents involved in the study (all from different walks of life) said their pet helped them cope emotionally with the lockdown and 96 percent said their pet helped keep them fit and active.
Lead author, Dr. Elena Ratschen said that the findings from this study demonstrated potential links between people’s mental health and the emotional bonds they form with their pets: Measures of the strength of the human-animal bond were higher among people who reported lower scores for mental health-related outcomes at baseline.
Researchers also discovered that the strength of the emotional bond owners had with their pets did not really differ by animal species, meaning that people felt on average as emotionally close to, for example, their guinea pig as they did to their dog.
SOME OF THE OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF HAVING A PET
- Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets
- People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months
- Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax
- Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without
- Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets
“The findings of this study come as no surprise to us: We’ve always known the magical healing powers that owning a pet brings,” said David Barritt of Network for Animals (NFA). “Our pets bring happiness into our lives – and we can all use an extra dose of that right now.”