by Suzanne Northey, M.S. LMFT at Strategies for Success in Chandler, Arizona
Do you ever feel unappreciated or unsupported?
Do you ever get lonely or bored?
Do you have difficulty talking yourself into getting off the couch to go outside and enjoy some physical activity?
Do you want to find additional tools to teach your kids responsibility and compassion?
Have you ever thought it would be rewarding to donate some of your time to a worthy cause?
If you answered yes to any of the above, having or assisting a pet could be the answer.
Pets are loving, loyal, and always happy to see you. They live for your attention. There is research that shows that having a pet lowers blood pressure and decreases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and may even lower one’s cholesterol.
Pets are also great for mental health. That’s why so many professionals in the social service industry advocate the use of therapy dogs that go to visit residents in assisted living settings, and patients in skilled nursing facilities and hospitals. Pets simply make people feel happier.
Pets are also great entertainment. Watch a dog or cat play and see if you can keep from cracking a smile. Their behavior is spontaneous, infectious and they have no hidden agenda. Also, observing fish in an aquarium is great for your health because it slows the heart rate and helps manage stress.
And if you have wanted to begin a fitness program but haven’t found inspiration, a dog may be a great solution. Research shows that individuals that have dogs are more likely to get exercise because they walk or run their dogs, take them to a dog park, or play fetching games.
Do you want your children to learn stills to grown into responsible adults? Do you want them to be kind and compassionate in their interactions with others? Having a child exercise, feed, and clean up after a pet teaches them accountability. Also, there is significant evidence that having and caring for a pet teaches children and teens to develop greater empathy and sensitivity towards others.
Finally, if you or your teen are passionate about giving back to the community, why not volunteer at a pet shelter or animal rescue organization? There are so many dogs and cats in need of love, attention, and finding placement in a good home. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a part of something so valuable?
In summary, there are multiple benefits to having a pet. It is a win-win situation for both you and your beloved furry friend. So consider welcoming in a new member of the family. You will be glad that you did.
If you or a friend/family member needs the assistance of a licensed counselor or psychiatrist, we offer quality over-the-phone and in person sessions to help fit any personal needs.