What makes pets and other animals have such a calming effect on humans is their natural state of presence. Animals live in the moment; they are fully engaged in the world around them. They’re not tethered to the past, nor worrying about the future. Our lives are enhanced by sharing in their simple and unfettered existence. We are drawn to these amiable creatures through wonder, appreciation, love, and joy.
When people spend time around pets – whether they own them or not - the positive energy they exude has a calming effect on the human psyche. This type of happy vibe lowers our stress levels, and allows people of all ages to cope with stress and improve their lives in many ways, some of which are listed below.
Relaxing through physical contact
When you pet any animal, certain endorphins in your body are released which make you feel good. Of course, the animal enjoys this too, so there is a shared feeling of relaxation and peace which comes from a positive connection with another living being. This practice will automatically reduce stress on some level, depending on how fully engaged and present you are. Also, feelings of anger and resentment can fade or lessen.
Increased health benefits through pets
Interaction with your own – or someone else’s – pet can bring down things like heart rate and blood pressure. Even though pets mostly interact non-verbally, both verbal and non-verbal communication is very therapeutic for both of you. Allowing yourself to fully engage with a pet, thinking happy thoughts and speaking in loving, happy tones (like you would with an infant) relaxes the animal and actually releases hormones in your body that lowers blood pressure.
Pets have therapeutic value
In therapeutic settings, pets brought to nursing homes and hospitals have helped countless people feel better physically and emotionally. They can even help people to open up more so than other human beings in some cases, because people trust animals more, and feel safe enough to be themselves around them. In a home environment, there’s nothing like being greeted by a loving pet - who wants only to be with you - and loves you unconditionally.
Whether a pet is yours or not, if you allow yourself to “lose yourself” while interacting with them and give them your full attention, you’ll find it alleviates stress and improves your overall well-being.