The Star-Herald

Pets give us purpose

Isn’t it amazing how pets can increase our self-confidence by not passing judgment? It’s been proven that the power of unconditional love is like no other. 

Every human wants to feel safe, wanted and loved, and animals can provide all three. By loving us unconditionally and without judgment or bias, pets provide a companionship that can be achieved by no other. They make us feel special and loved no matter what, and that sense of loyalty is extremely helpful to our mental well-being. When in doubt, turn to your pets.

The simple act of caretaking has many mental health benefits, as caring for another living being gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. Knowing that our pets rely on us for their basic needs and quality of life makes us feel special and wanted traits that can increase dopamine as well as relieve loneliness and depression. Plus, the act of doing good makes us feels good as well!

Studies have shown that interacting with a friendly animal for as little as five minutes helps our bodies to release serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that relax the nervous system and help to create a sense of calm in the body. The more we smile and laugh while interacting with the animal, the more these hormones are released as well. It’s a win-win.

Moreover, the simple act of petting or playing with a pet has shown to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as lower blood pressure. This is why animal-assisted therapy is so powerful.

Sometimes life can get away from us when we constantly worry about our past and future situations and problems. However, our animal companions have no such worries and constantly live in the present moment. Because of this, they aid in teaching us mindfulness, which is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the present. By focusing only on the present moment, our brains can relax as we start to become calmer and more rational in our thinking and behavior.  

Helpful information can be found at pets.webmd.com.

Please consider giving a pet a loving and safe home. Check out the Central Aroostook Facebook page for pets available for adoption.

Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the board for the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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