The physical and mental benefits of owning a dog are well known. From providing company and stimulating relaxation to encouraging exercise and even increasing life expectancy; there are many ways that man’s best friend can help to improve our mental well-being. Dog owners can experience many health benefits because of their four-legged, including fewer trips to the doctor, increased physical and mental well-being as well as reducing the impact of depression. So, it should come as no surprise that if you are suffering the January blues, then your dog can help you in more ways than you might realise.
Dogs are fantastic for providing company, their loyalty and unconditional love shown to their owners make them the perfect companion. There are many ways in which dogs have shown themselves to be loyal, whether offering company to older people, therapy for sick children or being that devoted companion and support in the case of guide dogs for the blind or hearing dogs within the deaf community.
Whether you are suffering from a case of the January blues or depression then healthcare professionals are likely to encourage you to get outside in the fresh air to support your mental well-being. Taking a dog for a walk is the perfect excuse to do this. Whether you have a small dog and go for a short walk or go running with a very active dog, getting outside, even for a short time, is likely to have a positive impact on your mental health.
Having a four-legged friend wagging their tail as you walk through the door can be a great welcome home if you have had a difficult day. This is likely to encourage you to focus on them and their needs rather than the issues you have been presented with previously. This renewed focus can give you a sense of purpose as you fix your attention on feeding and walking your dog.
Walking a dog not only gives you a purpose and gets you outside but also will increase your levels of exercise. Exercise will boost your mood as well as keeping you physically active. By stimulating the brain, regular exercise can help us to sleep better, improve our mood and reduces stress.
Studies have shown that stroking or even just touching an animal can have a calming effect if we are feeling anxious. Animal therapy is becoming increasingly common in hospitals, schools and even prisons as subjects are exposed to animals and encouraged to stroke and hug them, having a proven impact on mood and behaviour and to reduce stress.
It is widely acknowledged that owning a dog can directly benefit our health and this is supported by many pieces of research. These studies have shown that being a dog owner can lower blood pressure, improve our cardiovascular health, lowers cholesterol and reduce depression.
Whilst out walking your dog, it is likely that you will come across other dog walkers. The interaction between dogs who are keen to play means that you might end up in a conversation with another dog owner. If you are experiencing depression, then this simple social interaction can help to boost your mood.
If you are feeling anxious and are struggling to move on from difficult situations, constantly worrying and analysing then a dog could help you to stop reliving these moments as they are very much about the here and now – when they are going to be fed, when they are going for a walk and when they are going to get your attention!
So, if you are experiencing the January blues then a dog could be the perfect way to boost your mood.