Mental health awareness week is October 3-9th. As we wrap up this week of reflection on mental health, we wanted to look at 5 ways dogs help our mental wellbeing!
1. Provide Us With A Routine
Dogs tend to do best with a routine, which can also help out us humans. Especially if you struggle with mental illness such as anxiety disorders, having a consistent routine can give you a sense of dependable consistency. Caring for a dog can also provide you with a sense of control. Sufferers of mental illness often feel a lack of control, so having a dog to provide consistency and a sense of empowerment can be so important!
2. Give Us A Sense Of Purpose
If you are struggling with a mental illness such as depression or severe anxiety, it can be difficult to get out of bed and manage the day-to-day tasks when you are feeling overwhelmed. Having a pup that relies on you every day for food, water, bathroom breaks, exercise, and play can give you the needed push to get out of bed. Caring for your four-legged family can also remind you to practice your own self-care. Grooming your dog can remind you to keep up with your own appearance, and brushing their teeth may remind you to do the same for yours.
3. Increases Our Feel-Good Hormones
There have been multiple studies that show an increase in the hormones responsible for making us feel good - serotonin, dopamine, prolactin, and oxytocin (which combats cortisol, the stress hormone). Interacting with dogs in general have been known to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, but these levels are even higher when spending time with your own pet. The repetitive nature of petting a dog can also have a calming effect on us. Have you noticed that when you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious, your pup seems to just know? Dogs are very attuned with our emotions, and seem to always know when they are most needed to come over for an extra cuddle.
4. Non-Judgemental Love
You know the way your dog looks at you when you get home after work - that look of unfiltered love? Your dog won’t judge you if you’ve sat at home and cried, or if you tell them your deepest darkest secrets. That unconditional love can do wonders for your head and heart!
5. Encourage Us To Get Outside And Active
Being a dog owner requires a certain level of physical activity. Our pups need to get outside for bathroom breaks and for daily exercise. Not only does this keep us active as well, it can be a great chance to get out in nature, which many people find a great way to feel more centered. Another added benefit is that getting out and about with your dog can lead you to find and explore new places, and to meet new people.
What better way to celebrate the end of mental health awareness week than to thank your dog for all the ways they help support your mental wellbeing? You can give them an extra special treat, spend the day doing their favourite activity, or even find a new enrichment activity to keep your pup’s brain busy!
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
- The healthybud team