Pets and JOY -- A Really Nice Thing
by Teresa MI Schaefer, PHD
It is a well-known and researched fact that animals can help reduce stress. Pet owners universally assert that these critters, whether large or small, furry, feathered, scaly or slimy bring JOY. But not just joy. They do come with costs --even when they themselves were free. There will be costs associated with veterinary care…
… which, after hours – let us just say midnight, can be pretty costly.
There are also costs associated with supplies…
.. you know, the kind associated with replacing the dog’s bed.
Pets can make messes, destroy things we like, cause fights among neighbors but largely they bring tremendous benefits.
Would you believe pet owners are:
· less likely to suffer from depression,
· have lower blood pressure,
· have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels,
· make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors, and
· children who grow up with pets have less risk of allergies and asthma.
One of the greatest things about pets is that they are never critical. They tend to love unconditionally, which is a really nice thing.
BUT WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE MONEY, SPACE, TIME, OR INTEREST IN HAVING YOUR OWN PET, CAN YOU STILL BENEFIT????
The answer is YES.
· You can volunteer at a shelter or pet sit for a friend. The benefits to caretaker and animal are mutual.
· Hang a bird feeder.
· Visit a zoo or aquarium. You can do this virtually.
Don’t have time, but still looking for the JOY and the health benefits? Try …
· Looking at cute pictures of baby animals, or
· Watching funny animal videos
Not only may these bring you JOY, but research shows that viewers demonstrate improvements in:
· Attention and concentration,
· Processing speed,
· Productivity, and
· Resilience against stress.
Not bad for something that requires just a little time. Try it out. See what you think, how you feel. Maybe you will feel a little more JOY – which is a really nice thing.
For more on the benefits and costs of pet ownership check out: