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People love their pets and tend to feel comforted by them- but what a lot of people don’t know is that pets have been shown scientifically to benefit us. Here are some ways they do this:
1. simply petting an animal lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Therefore, those with pets might want to pet their animal the next time they feel upset.
2. Interacting with dogs in particular lowers heart rate and blood pressure as well as the level of cortisol (stress hormone) and self-reported experiences of anxiety, demonstrating a “buffering response” against stress. Simply having a dog in the same room as a person has also been shown to have anxiety-decreasing effects.
3. In a survey of 246 college freshman, a study found that 90.3% of those with pets reported feeling comforted and supported during stressful times when interacting with their animal.
4. Interactions with animals have also been shown to lower the potential effects of loneliness and depression.
5. Interactions with animals help to instill a sense of autonomy (by having the responsibility to care for another living thing), confidence, and self-esteem.
6. Animals tend to be very empathic, which in itself can be comforting. Their ability to demonstrate empathy can also teach us to have more empathy for others.
7. Animals are upfront- they do not lie. Through their body language, they will always tell you how they are feeling, how they are feeling about you, and what they desire. This makes it easier to feel secure around them, especially for those who have trouble feeling secure with other people. Their upfront behavior can also teach us to pay attention to our own feelings and be honest about them with others.
8. Animals live in the moment. They do not mourn over the past nor fear for the future. They know how to play even in adulthood as well as they did when they were very young. They will teach you how to play if you have forgotten how to do so. By emulating your animal, you can learn to appreciate the present moment more instead of being lost in the past or the future. Play with your animal and watch their delight in the present moment. Let that delight spread to you. Share in their joy- they certainly don’t mind sharing with you!
9. Animals tend not to hold grudges. As people, we sometimes pay too much attention to our own egos and forget that other people are just as imperfect as we are. Animals can teach us patience and forgiveness.
10. Lastly, animals love. They love us, no matter what. We love them. By bringing the same emotional principles to our human relationships, we can learn to love more and allow ourselves to be loved by others.