Select Page

Pet Therapy – How cats and dogs can lower levels of stress

27th February 2020

Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death

 

When the end of a calendar year approaches and friends and colleagues discuss what they’ll do differently once the clock chimes midnight on December 31, you very rarely hear anyone say that their new year’s resolution is to reduce stress. Which makes no sense at all when you consider that chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung issues, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.

In America, over 75% of all GP visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. It’s a problem of major significance and of epidemic proportions – the bottom line is, we must all actively be looking to reduce our levels of stress.

Animals and stress reduction

One solution for lowering stress and minimising the impact of stress-related hormones is both simple and rewarding. That solution? Get a pet.

The Science

Khody Damestani, co-founder of mental health and well-being company, MyMindPal, is a huge advocate of pet therapy.

“You can lower stress using various methods which we’d also highly recommend, from meditation and mindfulness, to staying present by focusing on just one task at a time. But having a pet is a huge positive, with studies showing that petting and playing with animals actively reduces stress-related hormones,” says Khody.

“Playing with a dog or cat raises our levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are hormones that calm the nervous system. And these benefits can occur within no time at all – just a few short minutes.

“Interacting with a family pet also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as increasing the rate of oxytocin release, which naturally reduces stress. On top of that, stroking a pet lowers blood pressure, and if you’re lowering your blood pressure then you’re inadvertently lowering stress.”

Lowering stress levels can save lives!

“I can’t stress – pardon the pun – how important this is. Chronic stress can directly affect your brain. It negatively affects your immune system and ability to heal. It can cause blood sugar imbalances, and decrease bone density and muscle tissue, as well as increasing your blood pressure and levels of bad cholesterol which directly correlate to heart attacks and strokes.”

“Without wishing to sound over-dramatic, lowering your stress levels could save your life. And getting yourself a pet is a positive step in the right direction.”

Final thoughts

Most people’s new year resolutions are, by now, a dim and distant memory. However, the desire to lower levels of stress should be a 365-day a year, 24-7 commitment, because stress is a killer; pure and simple.

You Might Also Like

World Mental Health Day 2022

World Mental Health Day 2022

Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority So World Mental Health Day is upon us again and the theme set by the ‘World Federation for Mental Health’, this year is 'Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority'. The central thrust of this...

Loneliness – mental health awareness week 2022

Loneliness – mental health awareness week 2022

Mental Health Awareness week is upon us once more and the theme this year is loneliness. Most of us have felt lonely at some point in our lives. However when loneliness becomes chronic, it can have an impact on our mental health beyond what many of us might expect....

Stress Awareness Month

Stress Awareness Month

MyMindPal co-founder, Khody Damestani, shares his thoughts and experiences as a therapist during stress awareness month. Stress Awareness month is upon us again so I would like to share my observations with you as someone who treats individuals suffering from the...

More Podcasts

When stress takes hold our bodies keep the score

When stress takes hold our bodies keep the score

In this Episode Daryl Woodhouse is becoming a leading authority in wellbeing and mental health in the workplace, and how that translates into business success. Here he talks candidly about trying to change attitudes in organisations, and his own mental health battles...

The Zone founder Fiona Bugler’s story

The Zone founder Fiona Bugler’s story

In this Episode Fiona Bugler is the founder and editor of The Zone, a new magazine that focuses on wellbeing in the workplace. Here she talks to Richard Lenton about her new venture, her passion for endurance running and how it’s so important to her own mental...