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3 Ways That Fido Can Improve Your Mental Health

June 29, 2015

The phrase – “dogs are a man’s best friend,” – is poignantly accurate. Afterall, it’s hard to feel sad when you arrive home from work and your dog is there excitedly waiting to smother you with affection. If you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ve no doubt benefitted from the unconditional love that they provide. Dogs are tirelessly devoted and provide a host of mental and physical health benefits. They can ease loneliness, reduce anxiety and stress, depression, and encourage exercise and social interaction, just to name a few. Dogs not only help your mind, but your body and spirit as well. The short list below are a few reasons why:

1. Reduce anxiety:

Dogs can offer comfort to those struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and a variety of other mental health issues. Dogs don’t judge and will love you just as much tomorrow as they did today, so can help ease the anxiety associated with social interaction. They also help to build confidence. People who are anxious for instance may struggle talking to others, and dogs act somewhat as a social lubricant, allowing people to start and maintain friendships. When you are out walking your dog, a person is more likely to greet your dog before they greet you, which can ease the stress associated with starting a conversation and being the center of attention. Petting a dog has also been found to increase levels of oxytocin, the happy hormone, in the brain.

2. Increase exercise:

No matter how much you want to lie on your couch all day and watch TV, you have to take Fido out for a walk. Doing so provides you the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and experience an energy boost from the exercise, even if it’s only a short walk. For those who are depressed or anxious, going outside can reduce the doom and gloom of being locked indoors, therefore improving mental well-being. Dogs also love to play outside, so you can enjoy going to the beach to let your dog play in the water, throw a Frisbee or tennis ball, or take a run on a warm summer’s day! The opportunities for exercise are endless and your dog will never tire of trying out fun new, healthy activities with you.

3. Provide companionship:

Dogs love you unconditionally and adore spending every waking moment of every day with you. It may sound silly, but you can talk to your dog about anything and he/she will listen without judging, which can allow you to vent when it feels more difficult to talk to a human being. Your dog doesn’t care if you made a mistake at work or failed to accomplish a goal. He/she loves you to the end of the Earth and back regardless. As long as you have a dog, you will always have a friend.

everyday HEALTH has an interesting article about how dogs can help with depression. If you are feeling depressed or have other mental health issues, Prevail Health has an affordable mental health program that is tailored to match your particular needs. Visit iPrevail.com for more information.

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