Since 1992, World Mental Health Day has been honoured each 10th of October to raise awareness, promote global mental health education, and cut-out the social stigma against mental illness. Whether you suffer from one of the many mental health disorders that exist or have recently been going through a difficult time, we want to remind you that you are not alone and that help is out there. If you’re a pawrent, we’ve listed reasons to thank your pup on this day for helping ease some symptoms and being your very own happy hormone releasers!
In the presence of your four-legged companion, you never feel alone. Whether they are boisterous or the calm type, just knowing you have a buddy by your side can make a world of difference for someone suffering from anxiety and depression. Knowing that our dogs are consistently loyal and love us unconditionally gives humans that reassurance that they’re not going anywhere—unless it’s for a walk, in which they’ll want you to join! This brings in another benefit to having a pooch—they increase your opportunities for socialisation with other humans (and their pups!) by needing to go for their daily walkies and visits to the dog park. In a study conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), 80% of pawrents agreed that their pet made them feel less lonely; 54% said their pet helps them connect with other people. Your pooch is your very own wingpup by getting you out there and socialising with your fellow species!
In addition to helping you socialise, your pup is also encouraging you to move your body by exercising with them via walkies and playing in the park. Various studies and reports—including the John W. Brick Foundation’s “Move Your Mental Health Report”, which analysed various studies conducted over the last thirty years on how exercise plays an important role in mental health and wellbeing—have come to similar conclusions: physical exercise is extremely beneficial to the brain. This review came to the conclusion that general physical activity, including walking, can significantly improve mood, general anxiety, stress and depression. Walking four to five days for about 30-45 minutes is the sweet spot to get the most out of your endorphin-filled walk. The best part is you have your four-legged walking buddy to remind you to take these walks!
Cuddles Feel Good For Everyone
Did you know that those belly rubs you’re giving your pooch are helping you as much as it is feeling good for them? Petting your pup increases levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decreases your production of the stress hormone cortisol. One study showed that just 15-30 minutes of cuddle-time with your dog can significantly reduce cortisol levels, while 55 minutes of snuggles substantially reduced participants’ heart rates. Don’t underestimate the power of the belly rub!
All You Need Is (Puppy) Love!
Writer Josh Billings once said, “A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself”, and we find it hard to disagree! Unconditional doggy love does wonders for one’s mental state, which is why these four-legged furries are often used as emotional support animals. Being a pawrent also boosts your self-esteem and sense of purpose by being the caretaker to your ball of love. Feeling needed and having responsibilities when it comes to your pup gives you a sense of meaning, especially if you aren’t currently working or are taking some time off for your mental health.
Whether you are going through a difficult time or have been struggling with mental illness, take today to go on a walkie, have some snuggles with your pooch and most important of all, say thank you to your pup for helping your brain out in miraculous ways.