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    How Pets Help You Deal with Stress

    Spending time with a pet is one of the ways to relax and rechargeWhether you are under a lot of stress, or fighting depression, it helps to have someone to talk to, and that someone could be a pet. Pets help you deal with stress and can improve your health, plus they are glad to listen as you pour your heart out, without interrupting or telling you what to do.

    Especially if you are alone, a pet can provide essential companionship that keeps you connected with the world. Caring for an animal forces you to think of someone other than yourself, and breaks the cycle of brooding on your problems all the time. And they are just fun to be around.

    One example of the difference pets can make is how many nursing homes now allow companion animals to visit the people who live there. Residents become more responsive and contented when interacting with their furry guests, and the effects last after the animals have gone.

    Pets lower blood pressure. Research has shown that the presence of animals reduces our blood pressure, which can be a dangerous offshoot of stress. There appears to be something inherently calming and uplifting about having pets around, whether they are dogs, cats, birds, fish or something more exotic.

    Unconditional love. Charles Schultz once wrote that, “dogs love people for who they are.” Cats too, actually. They don’t care how you look, how smart you are, what you do for a living or what kind of car you drive. Affection from a pet comes with no pre-qualifications, and has no end. If your work days are full of trying to please your boss or unhappy customers, then coming home to an animal who loves you can relieve a lot of the stress you have built up all day long.

    Exercise. One way to get yourself moving more regularly is to walk a dog. Dogs need exercise, and so do we. You get stress relief from fresh air and muscle activity, and a walking buddy who seldom wears out. Depending on the breed, a dog might also make you feel safer and more willing to go outside.

    The magic of touch. We all need physical contact, but if you live alone, or spend a lot of time away from family members, a loving touch may be rare. Animals are born to touch. They love to snuggle, hug, roll, nuzzle, and let you stroke them for hours on end. On your side, the act of petting a cat or dog can reduce your heart rate, and release feel good hormones in your brain.

    Recharging your sense of play. Animals love to play. Even as they get older, they never seem to lose their eagerness to just have fun, and it makes them happy when you join them. When we’re under a lot of stress, we forget how to be playful. Pets serve as an excellent reminder that we don‘t have to take life so seriously all the time.

    Sense of routine. When you are under a lot of stress it can seem like the world is spinning out of control. The routine feeding and care of a pet can give you a sense of stability, as well as confidence in your ability to be responsible for someone else.

    Some things to keep in mind if you decide to own a pet.

    If you are dealing with a lot of stress already, you need to consider a pet that is relatively low maintenance. Some dog breeds might require more space, food, and exercise time than you have available. If you work long days, then a cat could be a better choice, as they don’t require you let them outside.

    Also, consider your budget. You don’t want to add to your money stress by bringing home a pet you can’t afford. A vet or animal shelter could provide information to help you decide. If you have to think small, even goldfish can calm your nerves.

    Be willing to make a long term commitment. A pet can bring you years of happiness, but should not be taken on as some sort of short term fix. Pets give us their devotion and trust, and must rely on us for their safety and care. Before you give your heart to any pet, be sure it is for the long haul.

    Pets help us deal with stress and keep a positive outlook. Plus, it’s always good to have a true friend.

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