We’ve written before about the ways in which owning a dog can make a positive impact on your emotional wellbeing, and we wanted to re-visit this topic as its something we truly believe more people need to understand. Owning a dog is a huge privilege and one that we’re so grateful we get to enjoy here at Little Soap HQ. Our last post focused on the ways that being a dog owner can help to give you a purpose, ease anxiety and stay present in every day moments- three very good reasons why owning a dog is so amazing. This week we’re looking at even more mental health benefits of owning a dog- and if you have any to add please do let us know. Get in touch via the comments section here, or on Facebook/ Instagram.
Dogs help to combat loneliness
In today’s modern world, we’re never really alone. We’re plugged n 24/7 to social media and networking sites. We can call anyone in the world at literally any time we want to. If we need to talk at 3am there is inevitably someone around also awake and ready to listen. And yet according to reports, we are more lonely than ever.
Last week’s World Mental Health Day focused primarily on suicide prevention, and many organisations list loneliness as a leading cause for depression, low mood and feelings of isolation. All of this in today’s digital, ultra-connected world. But the thing is that all of these connections we make are via a screen, and many of us can go days and days without actually speaking to a real live person face to face. This lack of human contact can be devastating.
Owning a dog means that not only do you have a loyal companion by your side when you need one, but being out on dog walks often helps to force human interactions too. The people you meet on dog walks can literally be a life line for some and can really help to combat loneliness too.
Dogs help to establish feelings of being in control
Sometimes it can feel as though life simply happens to us, or despite us. Feeling out of control can be frightening, frustrating and miserable. Often there are events in life that we cannot control no matter what we do, and this can result in feelings of anxiety, low mood and depression. To counter this, dog owners report a renewed sense of being in control thanks to the responsibility of caring for their pet. Being needed as the sole carer for an animal that relies totally on you for food, warmth and love can be such a powerful thing. Feeling a sense of importance can make a huge difference in mental health issues- and having a dog ranks very highly as a valuable supportive connection for many.
Owning a dog helps us to build healthy habits
When you’re working through periods of low mood or depression, or any mental health issue, recovery often relies on the building of healthy habits to assist the process. Owning a dog can be a crucial part of this and simply completing the basic steps of caring for your pet can be enough to create lasting healthy habits for life.
Being outdoors on dog walks, caring for and thinking of your pet, conversing with other pet owners… all of this is part and parcel of being a dog owner, and are basic tasks that need to repeated every day. They’re also great ways to boost mood and self-esteem. Being around like minded people, moving your body regularly and spending time in nature are all proven methods for recovery. Not to mention that caring for an animal is more likely to prompt the realisation that it’s also ok to care for you, too.