It’s fair to stay that the past year has been an incredibly stressful, anxiety-inducing time for many of us due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Taking care of ourselves and those around us has become a priority, with people encouraged to be aware of their mental health as well as following government advice on social distancing and much more.
There are plenty of things you can do to improve your mental wellbeing, and owning a pet is just one of them. We take a look at how having an animal in your house can be of benefit.
A lifestyle improvement
With so many restrictions having been placed upon us in recent times, having a pet can give you a reason to get out the house and exercise.
Taking the dog for a daily walk is likely to see you surpass the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which can help reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
But even if you can’t get out of the house without difficulty due to something like a personal injury, a pet can still have a positive impact on your mental health.
Several different studies have shown that just stroking a pet can significantly reduce the levels of cortisol in your system. Cortisol is a hormone that is associated with stress, meaning petting an animal is a quick and effective way to relieve any tension you might be feeling.
Working from home
Even when restrictions are completely lifted by the government, it is likely that many people will continue to work from home due to companies closing office spaces to cut costs during the pandemic.
This means you have more time to properly look after your pet and play with them, which can boost the levels of “feel-good” hormones in your system.
When working from home you can use your lunch break to take the dog for a walk and then spend more time in the evening socialising with your family and friends, something that you might not have found time for previously.
Of course, having a pet isn’t always a walk in the park.
Research from National Accident Helpline revealed that over two thirds of pet owners found their pets distracting when they were trying to focus on other tasks.
It can be embarrassing when you’re in a video meeting with colleagues and your dog decides to start barking or your cat thinks it’s the perfect time to sit on your keyboard.
However, a pet can help provide the separation that’s needed between work and downtime when the office is the same place as where you live.