I’ve always been an anxious person and have suffered from panic attacks and OCD, stemming from when my dad was first diagnosed with blood cancer. Before Ember came into my life, I had only heard about the healing powers of dogs, not just physical health but mental health too. I had no idea how much Ember would change my life. Just seeing her face and wagging tail is enough to brighten up any day. She helps me get out of myself and I have met and spoken to a lot more people just thanks to her. Plus she never judges me, no matter what I talk to her about. I like to call her my therapist with 4 legs. I owe her so much, for making my life so much more positive and happy, I want to make sure she knows just how much I appreciate her.
For Mental Health Awareness Week, I have compiled a list of ways dogs help improve humans mental health.
Provide companionship and Reduce loneliness
No one likes being lonely and having a dog means you will never be lonely. Having the responsibilities of caring for your dog also helps you feel needed and have a purpose. If you need someone to talk to, your dog will never judge you or answer back. And what’s better than coming home to wet kisses and wagging tails.
As corny as it sounds, dogs offer comfort and companionship which help ease anxiety and self-confidence. Dogs have no worry or regrets, no sense of time or hurry and they are always willing to get you out into the world. They help teach us to appreciate little joys and live in the moment.
Stroking a dog, literally just stroking a dog, helps to lower blood pressure, making you feel calmer and less stressed. Even more reason to stroke every dog you see!
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Find meaning and joy and boost vitality
Caring for a dog brings pleasure, boosts morale, optimism and your self-worth. They also encourage playfulness, laughter and increase your energy.
Manage thoughts and feelings
Everyone’s heard the saying ‘you can’t lie to a dog’. They can read our emotions like a book and are less likely to be responsive to commands if they can hear you are stressed, tense or anxious. It’s important to be aware of your emotions when you are around your dog, in order to become the pack leader and help your dog become the perfectly behaved companions. This will in turn help you manage your emotions and feelings, which helps with your lifestyle in general.
Affection and self-esteem
Dogs love unconditionally, without any agenda. This returning affection is great for self-esteem, especially for those lonely or depressed.
Dogs are Hugely rewarding but a big commitment. Even when you are rock bottom and don’t want to leave your bed, your dog will remind you why you’re needed.
Add structure and routine
Your dog needs feeding a few times a day, as well as exercise and having a routine helps your dog stay calm and helps especially stressed dogs. This helps us humans too! No matter how you’re feeling, your dog won’t let you rest until you have fulfilled your daily duties of feeding and exercise and general care.
The best medicine. Dogs have crazy characteristics and are always going something which makes you laugh, no matter how you are feeling.