You guessed it, it’s your pet. The January Blues can strike pretty hard if you’re not careful. Party season is over, you’re back at work and it’s more than a little chilly. Not a great recipe for feeling at your best. Luckily for all you pet owners out there, one of the best ways to improve your mood is spending quality time with your dog of cat. That could be exercising, playing or simply showing and receiving affection.
The effects can be truly profound, and range from the physiological to the psychological – although these of course are symbiotic. Our dogs and cats help combat depression, lower blood pressure, keep us calm and give us purpose and companionship. And they do so in all sorts of ways.
The obvious one with dogs, is the exercise they motivate you to do. And the benefits of this alone are threefold. First, you have a routine and structure is very important to good mental health. Second, the exercise itself, whilst good for your body is brilliant for your mood. And thirdly, getting out and about, especially with a four-legged friend, more often than not leads to social interaction. Dogs really are the best ice-breakers and you’re certain to chat with fellow owners as well as people wanting to pet your pooch.
Play can also be a brilliant mood-booster and whether it be with a dog or a cat it can be highly effective. You can be throwing balls for Fido or leading your feline around the garden in pursuit of toy mouse, either way the fun will be infectious. Endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, will be released which in turn will give you a feeling of overall well-being and can even temporarily reduce physical pain.
As well as walking and playing with pets, the power of simply stroking them is quite remarkable. Two minutes cuddling up to or stroking your one can reduce stress and anxiety considerably and even have the knock-on effect of lowering your blood pressure.
Whilst these are specific ways pets put you in a better mood, the overall effect of pet ownership is markedly positive. Caring for an animal gives people a real sense of purpose and pride. A different focus when perhaps everything in their lives isn’t as they’d like it to be.
If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, perhaps January is one of the toughest. But with a little help from our pets, we can all have a better start to 2019.