Manage Stress with Pets: How Owning A Pet Can Help Reduce Cortisol and Anxiety
If you’ve ever owned a cat or a dog, you know how wonderful it can be to have them rely on you for love, affection and, of course, food. Owning a pet can also be very healing for our souls. Many people are able to manage stress with pets by cuddling, playing or otherwise engaging with their furry friends.
Pets help keep you grounded and in the present. You’re less likely to worry about work, family or commitments when snuggling with a pet. Owning a pet (or three) can help boost immunity, improve your mood and keep your stress hormones under control.
For some reason, my pets have been the center of my life over the past few weeks. I’m not sure if they’re just more snuggly because it’s been so hot or if I am in need of some comfort. I know that I can manage stress with pets in my life because I instantly feel so calm when I focus 100% of my energy on them!
Our dog, Tia, helps keep my husband and I connected because we walk her together after work each day. We get outside and entertain more movement and activity into our lives that probably wouldn’t happen otherwise. Tia is a goofball so we continuously laugh at her antics (she loves chasing her frisbee). All of these benefits help us both to manage stress with pets in our lives.
My kittens (okay, they are now 2 years old so maybe they’re not kittens anymore) are so much fun to play with. Being cats, they have their moments of independence but Walker, our boy, always gives me a bit of his time for a good, long snuggle. Zeta, our girl, plays a modified game of tag with me each night before bed – she sits outside the bedroom door and waits for me to chase her. It’s impossible to worry, cry, despair or feel anything remotely close to stress when I’m engaged with my kittens!
Pets Are Naturally Calming
There are many studies available that prove you can manage stress with pets. Trauma dogs are now available for victims who have to relive horrific events in court. I hear these dogs are doing wonderful things for small children in this situation – they feel connected and safe with the dogs when they aren’t able to open up to adults.
Many retirement homes have a cat or two because the residents love to interact with and care for them. I think that the scary part of aging can be forgotten for a few moments while holding the cats.
Some Health Benefits of Pets
Have you ever held a cat and just listened to it purr? We manifest others’ emotions so when we are around stressed out, anxious people, sometimes it’s tough for us not to also begin to feel this way. However, if you’re around calm, cool, and collected pets, it’s tough to not just give in and relax.
One of my insomnia cures is to snuggle with Walker. He presses his little body into my neck and purrs like a V8. I feel his love and his sense of ease, and I feel worry, tension and everything else that’s keeping me awake just melt away. Holding Walker for even 5 minutes each night can help me fall asleep within minutes..
Pets As Part of Holistic Lifestyle
Okay, I realize not everyone shares my love of animals. However, many of my clients either own or previously owned a pet of some kind. When I talk to them about stress management, one of the most popular answers that pop up is “Well, I enjoy walking my dog after work.”
And this is such a great answer because, not only are they out in nature but they’re reaping the benefits of having a wonderful companion. And this, in my opinion, is what helps to create a holistic lifestyle; this is what proves that you can manage stress with pets.
We need to focus on our diets and nutrition, for sure. But we also need to make sure that we include as much love, laughter, snuggles, and happiness in our lives as possible. The unfortunate part of our society is that human interaction seems to be harder to find. We may have the best spouse or friend in the world but they might not be there for us when we absolutely need them.
Who can be? Pets!
Love Your Pet More Often
How many of you endure a stressful work environment, despite not really being in a position that involves life or death situations? I work full-time as an IT security analyst and, believe me, IT people too often act like an incident is a life or death situation. (Yes, there are IT-related incidents related to safety, for sure, but that’s not what I’m talking about.)
Something fairly mundane happens yet people treat it like the worst emergency ever. While I try to remain calm and collected, when everyone around me is strung out and hyper, it’s hard not to absorb some of that negative energy.
We can’t control our work environments but we can escape to our homes and help manage stress with pets after a hard day. Think about it – how awesome do you feel when you walk in the door and your favorite fur-babies come running at you, so very excited that you’re home? Don’t you feel totally adored and special? I know I do!
You really can’t help but smile! And the more you smile, the more regulated your stress hormones become. Win-win!
How Can You Manage Stress with Pets?
If you own a pet or two already, good for you! Be mindful about how playing with or walking your pet makes you feel. Use your little companion to your advantage the next time you can’t sleep or feel anxious from work or life. Share your deepest fears or regrets with your little buddy because it helps so much to get these things off your chest (and you know he or she will never tell anyone what you just said).
Being with a pet can be one of the most cathartic experiences possible. No matter how sh*tty your day was, it’s tough to stay sad, mad or frustrated when you have a furry little creature all over you, showing you how awesome and loved you are!
Try to see yourself through their eyes – to them, you’re perfect. You’re the best person they could ever imagine. They don’t see your flaws, they just love you for who you are 100%.
If you don’t or can’t own a pet, borrow one from a friend for a few hours. Offer to take care of a friend’s pets while they’re away. Volunteer at a local animal shelter. Visit the new cat cafe here in Calgary! Or, buy a soft, stuffed animal to cuddle when you’ve had a bad day.
A holistic lifestyle means smiling often and taking care of you.. Pets are just one amazing option for helping you manage stress. A trusted friend or a supportive partner can be just what you need to get you through your tough times. Remember the main principles of managing your stress: get it out, laugh often, and relax.
It’s possible to manage stress with pets. .
Who is your furry friend? Let me know in the comments below – I love to hear about people’s pets!