Feature: Pets are Fantastic Destressers
Pets keep you perpetually sorted out!
Pets are the ultimate destressers.
There can be no argument about the fact that pets are great company, wonderful partners in fun and grateful recipients of your affection.
A lesser-known fact is that pets play a central role in the state of your wellbeing and help you keep stress levels down.
Protectors all the way
Pets have always been known to give solace, comfort, enjoyment and entertainment to their owners.
Dogs act as protectors and do an excellent job of safeguarding the person and property of their
owners. Labradors and Golden Retrievers are eye-seeing dogs for the visually challenged.
Domesticated animals are fine-tuned into their owners’ state of health and well-being; they sense when we feel ill or have a touch of the blues.
They have the ability to raise our spirits, reduce our anxiety, lower our blood pressure, slow down heart rates and generally improve our mood. Indeed, pets are great destressers.
There is nothing more uplifting than arriving home and being greeted at the door by the unbridled love of a dog or cat or even by the raucously cheerful welcome of a parrot.
Studies reveal that the simple act of watching fish in a fish tank can calm a person, as can the very act of petting a dog or cat, which releases `feelgood’ hormones in us, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.
People who do not have pets have been found to suffer from persistent fears, increased feelings of panic, frequent headaches and to be taking more medication for stress-induced illnesses than pet owners.
Think about it. Everything to do with a pet calls for getting involved in a pleasurable activity, outside
of oneself. It could be taking long walks with your pet, playing with the animal, bathing and grooming it.
Many people treat their pets as they would children and reap benefits that may not always be a given with children, unconditional love being one such benefit!
The effect of pets on children cannot be dismissed lightly. Children who have pet animals at home have been found to have stronger immune systems and are less likely to take sick days from school. This is more so in the case of small children.
Having a cat or dog exposed children to more infections early in life, thus boosting their immune systems.
Pets also help the ailing, in particular, Alzheimer’s patients. Certain kennel clubs abroad organise monthly pet therapy sessions with senior citizens and ailing people.
The empathy felt by cats and dogs for ailing or recuperating owners has been well documented.
Mallika Ramachandran talks of how her Goldens, Shaggy and Bobo, sit by her sickbed the times she’s home after undergoing surgery. “It’s as if they want to comfort me with their presence.
And I do feel comforted, it’s such a healing gesture.”
Mallika Obeid who keeps as many as four dogs and seven cats in her house, says that cats suffer from bad press, in that they are perceived to be selfish, cold and unfeeling. “That’s not true,” says Mallika. “My cats invariably know when I’m not feeling too well or feeling down. They come curl up around me, sit in my lap, stretch at the foot of my bed, act like a living, purring hot water bottle!”
How can pets not help us de-stress? They bring joy to our daily life, give us something worthwhile
to do, boost our self-esteem, aid us in overcoming feelings of loneliness, help us become more outgoing, encourage activity, help us cope better with all the adversities of life.
So, be it a dog, cat, fish, bird, rabbit or whatever your choice of pet, go get yourself a destresser. It’s a great way to stay healthy whilst having much fun.
This ran in THE HINDU of 15 Apr 2006.