Why having a pet helps with anxiety

Why having a pet helps with anxiety

by Elizabeth Jones
Stripes Okinawa

Anxiety is something that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. For anyone who battles with anxiety, you know the feeling of drowning in self-doubt, constant worry, and panic attacks. For me, it started at a young age and over the years I had to find ways to manage my anxiety before I let it take control of my life.

Although every person is different, I do believe having a pet is one of the best ways to calm the waves of anxiety. I personally own two dogs, however, cats are great anxiety relievers too! Sure, pets can’t offer advice and they don’t know what exactly we’re anxious about, but they still do wonders to help put us at ease. Here are four reasons why having a pet helps control anxiety:

Pets pull us away from the chaos
Anxiety develops a simple thought or feeling into a huge pit of anxiousness. During those times, I feel the need to ponder over what is or could go wrong. Instead, I force myself to get up by reminding myself that no matter what is going on in my world, my dogs need to be taken care of. Caring for a pet is a lot of work, but it’s almost always enjoyable. Taking long walks in the early morning as the sun is rising, showing love and affection with lots of cuddles, teaching new tricks and playing with toys can pull us away from the real world.

Pets reminds us we aren’t alone
When I felt like nobody was on my side, I would come home, lie on my bed and wonder when the feeling of loneliness would seize. A few moments later, my dogs pounce on me, licking my face, and sometimes my tears. They nuzzle their way into my arms letting me know that they will always be there. Our four-legged loved ones will never let us feel alone because to them, we are their world. They would be silly to let us think they don’t want to be a part of our world too.

Pets leave no room for judgment
Some people use the words “dramatic” or “weird” to describe those struggling with anxiety. Some think it’s something that can easily be turned off and on. While I wish that were the case, it isn’t. Unlike some humans, pets will never judge the level of anxiety and fear we are experiencing. Even if we don’t want to, anxiety can lead us to be overemotional, unmotivated, antisocial and rant about our long list of worries. When that happens, dogs and cats are there for us by simply being present with zero room for judgment.

Pets remind us that we will always be loved
Anxiety can push us into crippling self-doubt. It can cause us to compare ourselves to others and start questioning our self-worth. There are many people in my life that have reassured me and picked me up when I have felt low. However, my two precious pups never fail to make me feel loved every day. Constant, loyal companions that do the smallest of things to make me feel so loved.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to battling anxiety but luckily there are many solutions to help reduce its presence in our lives. Take a chance on a pet, whether it be a dog or cat. You never know the amount of love and joy they could bring into your life to help keep anxiety at bay.

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