Pets are a great thing to have. In fact, most people call them companions. One of such great pets to have are dogs. There is a saying that goes “dogs are man’s best friend”. Many people underestimate the power of having a dog as a best friend but do you know that a dog can help you relieve your anxiety?
Well, now you know. According to a research study, almost about 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety and depression daily. That’s a really large number, don’t you think? Most sufferers often have what is known as panic attacks.
Panic attacks are often associated with these emotional issues, and the only thing that is always on the family of these suffered is to relieve the symptoms, it’s severity and how often it affects the patient.
Most of the triggers of these panic attacks range from normal everyday activities that do induce stress to other serious events. Some common triggers include test or examination related anxiety, stress from a new job or a new business opportunity, to more severe life events such as the death of a loved one and so on.
There are so many related treatments and techniques that could help calm the patient down but one is almost always ignored, and that is the use of pets; but specifically for this case, dogs.
There were so many ways by which dogs can help relieve a person’s stress level and anxiety problems. Compiled below are only a handful of ways by which these dogs do that.
1. Petting a dog
Do you know that there is a relationship between petting a dog and the release of stress and tension from the body? Science has discovered that the mere motion of stroking and petting any animal most especially a dog can help reduce your anxiety level.
According to a psychiatry professor at Stanford University, she said that the notion of petting an animal or a dog could help relieve the tension in the body. Here is how it works. There is a hormone in the body known as cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone produced when there is an increase in the stress level in the body.
However, there is another hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin can also be termed as a relaxing hormone because it stops the production of the cortisol hormone. So basically, the oxytocin hormone relaxes your nerves and body tissues when it is produced.
Dogs emit some signals such that when those signals come in contact with your body, they can trick your body into producing these relaxing hormones which are why most people who suffer anxiety attacks are encouraged to get dogs and stroke them.
Having a dog to snuggle up with and pet can help relieve your emotional stress as well as walking the dog can relieve body both physically as well as help with weight loss.
2. Dogs can help you focus on the positive aspects of life
Most patients who suffer from panic attacks are always advised to leave the cause of the attack in order to calm themselves down. One of the best ways to control your anxiety when you are about to have a panic attack is to have a distraction.
What best distraction is there to play with your dog who can also be considered as your best friend? You are advised to talk, walk and play with your dog as it brings the much-needed distraction.
You can sit on your pouch and watch them play or get yourself involved by playing catch with them or even something simple as teaching them a new trick will get your mind off a lot of negative things in your life.
Your brain needs a distraction, and you need to give it one. If you have a puppy, you can make use of them as a distraction and also teach them so many things they need to learn. This is probably what your brain needs to not think at that moment about all the wrong things in your life.
If you don’t have a dog of your own and you are prone to having panic attacks, then you should consider owning one, or if you can’t, you can visit the nearest animal shelter to help you get close to one. And most accommodations are happy to let you play with the dogs as it also offers the dogs a way of exercising their muscles.
And who knows? You may even develop a bond with a dog there such that you can be allowed to take a walk with it. You can also decide to volunteer at the dog shelter to help out as this will open up more channels to get closer to the dogs.
3. Dogs can help you relieve any tension in your body
Exercise has always been a good thing for the body, and your emotions are not left out of the equation. When you walk your dog, you get to do a lot of, and this can help you relieve all the pressure and tension you are feeling. Think of it as deflating a balloon load of anxiety.
This can also be an excellent exercise for your fluffy pet as well. This is a beneficial thing for both you and your dog. There are so many people who suffer intense pressures from work, inability to sleep, and so on.
Exercise has been seen as an excellent way to get the blood circulation even and help increase your chances of sleeping as well as your quality of sleep and to get a good quality of sleep, guess what can help you? Yes, you guessed right; Exercise.
Asides, improving your quality of sleep, and getting the right amount of exercise can lead to your body relieving the extra body tension as well as encourage your body to release extra body endorphins which are otherwise known as the feel-good hormones and hence decrease the frequency of having panic attacks and anxiety disorders.
Another bonus you can get from walking your dog around the block is reducing your blood pressure which can also help in allowing your body tissues to function properly.
4. Dogs can help you improve your social life
If your social life is dull, boring and uninteresting, then you need a dog. Dogs can help your social skills as well as increase your chances of meeting people and going out often. According to research, some people have panic attacks over meeting new people and what great way to get over that than walking your dog?
While taking your dog around the block, you get to see the surroundings and meet fellow dog walkers or even meet the neighbours you never knew you had. If you don’t want to walk your dog around the neighbourhood, another great place to take your pet to is the dog park. That is another excellent place to meet new people and get over your anxiety and fear of meeting new folks.
However, just walking your dog isn’t just the only thing you need to do to improve your social life. You need to take the initiative and step out of your shell. I mean, what can go wrong anyways?
If you are also very scared of new places or visiting new people, take your dog along with you. That way, you can be sure that you have your friend with you who can as well help you out of trouble provided he or she is trained for that.
Just remember, getting over your anxiety is the most important thing for you at this moment and having a great social life with friends who can support you is one great way to do that. However, how will you have friends if you are still holed up in your apartment?
5. Dogs can help you create a great schedule
Research has shown that one of the most significant ways to get over your anxiety is having an organised timetable that you can work with. This helps you feel more in control of your life, and it can reduce your stress.
Anxiety has been known to knock out the fun in your life as well as keep you in bed all day wallowing in self-sympathy. Stress has been known to be related to obesity, and the reason isn’t far fetched. You don’t get to have the motivation to exercise when you are worried, in fear or completely stressed.
Having a dog and knowing that you need to walk the dog at a particular time can drag you out of bed and straight into a fun exercise method. When you have a dog, you feel a sense of responsibility. You begin to think that another life has been entrusted in your care and the last thing you want to do is to let that life down, and if you are anything like me, that is just enough motivation to drag yourself out of bed.
When you wake up in the morning with the thoughts of feeding your dog, that can be a great reminder for you to feed yourself as well. You can let this be your reminder that you need to eat regularly as eating healthy has been seen to help decrease your stress level.
You can decide to feed your dog three times a day, and that reminds you to eat as well three times a day. That can take care of your feeding schedule. Creating a daily routine for your dog or with your dog in mind can be a perfect reminder for you to do things for yourself also. Hence, this makes both you and your dog happy and satisfied.
In conclusion, dogs have been seen to do really great things for people suffering from anxiety disorders and mood disorders such as depression and so on. They have been observed to help people get better and healthier. This and many more are significant reasons why owning a dog is the right decision to make.