Day 13 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge
I have several pets. I am a rabbit mom and there is something about birds that makes me so happy, so I am also a bird mom. I own both budgies and diamond doves. So I am a lover of animals, but did you know that having a pet can improve your mental health? You’ve probably heard about it, but today I’m going to share the why’s and how’s with you.
How Pets are Beneficial to Your Health
Having a pet can increase your opportunities for exercise. If you have a dog, most breeds need a walk. You can also bring your dog to a park and run around with them. It’s great bonding time, great exercise and a ton of fun. Being out in nature is known to help with anxiety and depression and you might meet other pet owners and have a chance to chat and socialize. And these days, cat owners can build outdoor playgrounds for their cats that are safe and enjoy time of outdoors with felines as well.
Just being around an animal, whether it’s a cat or dog or even fishing swimming, is calming. It lowers your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and serotonin, a feel good hormone rises. Petting your cat, dog, or rabbit or caring for any animal helps with depression as well as it’s a positive way to spend time and takes you out of yourself and troubles as you focus on the animal and it’s care.
Because pets provide companionship, they help with reducing illness. This can actually add years to your life. Plus, who isn’t happy to come home to a pet who is happy to see you?
Amazingly, pets can help you become more mindful. This is because pets live in the moment. They are not worried about what happened, and don’t worry about tomorrow either. Observing this (even subconsciously) helps us humans bring our own attention more to the present moment as well.
Pets can provide us with routine. Routine is important, anyone who provides any kind of child care can tell you that. As adults, we can acquire habits that make our lives less routine oriented and that can detract from our overall mental health. However, having to get up to feed and care for your pet will make your day more structured, especially if your pet needs a walk, or some other sort of socialization.
If you’re providing pet care, you’re going to understand the importance of self care. Self care is about remembering to take care of yourself, physically and mentally. Your pet takes a break to chew a toy, run around and wrestle with a toy. Your pet is having fun when it is doing this. It’s engaging in healthy, engaging behaviours and we should too. Observing this reminds us to take time to paint or knit, as well as to remember to take care of our bodies.
My Experience with Being a Pet Mom
It may sound kind of cutesy to say I’m a pet mom, but in reality, caring for a pet is like caring for a child. I adore each of my pets, and each has a special place in my heart. When I first got my budgie Aloha, I was worried about her because I was pretty certain her previous home had been neglectful. It took her a long time to realize her cage was not merely one perch, and even longer to come out of her cage and fly around.
Caring for the pets provides me with a sense of purpose. I have to refresh the water, check the that they have food (I use automatic feeders for my birds), clean their habitats, and provide mental stimulation in the form of toys. And, just buying toys for kids is fun, buying toys for your pets is too. I love doing all of this for my pets. They need me, and I love that they are apart of my life. They help me when I’m sad, they make me laugh and amaze me every day when I sit and watch them or engage in play with them.
And like a mom, I’m always trying to find ways to make their lives better. I’m always thinking about what healthier food I can provide, or new toy that will engage their interest. I re-arrange habitats, and make upgrades. And I’m saving money for vet visits–although I acknowledge most parents save money for university.
I wouldn’t trade my pets for anything. They are apart of my family. It upsets me when some members of my family scoff at them, or dismiss my love for them.
Are Pets For Everyone?
I’d say pets are great for people who love animals. If you simply aren’t an animal person, then you shouldn’t get a pet. A pet will not improve your quality of life if you don’t provide it with a great quality of life. Aloha can’t have been a very interesting or interactive pet in her previous home if she was kept in a tiny cage with no mental stimulation. Not being allowed to act naturally causes an animal to become depressed and act out of character, and even become aggressive. Essentially, you’d simply be keeping an animal in a cage rather than having a companion.
If you are considering getting a pet, you must be aware of the cost to your pocketbook and time. Pets require proper habitat setups, food and exercise as well as vet care from time to time. You must also be savvy and research the pet you are getting because there is a lot of misinformation out there, especially in regards to habitat sizes and diet. Chain pet stores don’t often don’t have the proper habitats for animals and the employees are not required to research and be knowledgeable in pet care.
If you love animals, and have the time and money to invest in a pet, then a pet is a wonderful addition to any family. But in the same way that children are demanding of your time and attention, so are pets. And like children, they can cost a lot of money to care for. You must be aware of this and ready to commit to any animal you welcome into your home.
The benefits are immense in my opinion, and the greatest benefit a pet can bring you is unconditional love.
Does your pet help your mental health? Share in the comments below!