According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is little evidence that companion animals like pets can spread the coronavirus or that pets can become sick from the coronavirus.1 So while you are social distancing from other humans, you can give your furry friend a hug without fear. In fact, research suggests that pets help mental health, so relying on your pet during the coronavirus could be what gets your though this difficult time.
Pet therapy has been used for many years now because of the connection between pets and mental health. This form of therapy uses animals to help improve people’s mental and physical health. It has been shown to lower anxiety, reduce loneliness, and increase mental stimulation as well as lower blood pressure, slow breathing in anxious people, and reduce overall physical pain.2 While pet therapy is designed to be therapeutic, they are not using magic animals. There are several health benefits of pets for normal pet owners as well.
Research suggests that ordinary pets like dogs, cats, and even fish can also decrease depression, improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce loneliness, and boost your mood.3 The connection between pets and mental health may be even more important for people who struggle with poor mental health. For people with mental health conditions, companion animals can help them manage their mental health in several ways, especially during times of crisis.4
If you find you are struggling to manage your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone. Social isolation and days spent inside are not great for mental health and many people are suffering. While puzzles and games are fine, it may be time to turn to your pet for mental health help during quarantine.
Especially if you are in quarantine alone, you may be starving for connection and feeling lonely. Pets can be a great source of companionship when human contact is lacking. Take some time each day to cuddle or just spend time with your pet. Especially if you have a history of depression or have been to a depression treatment center, you may need to rely on your pet for support during isolation.
Many people in isolation are bored or may not be getting the mental stimulation they should. Instead of binge-watching hour after hour of your show and doing nothing for your mental health, get some mental stimulation with your pet. If you are bored, try teaching your pet a new trick or engage in some play time. You could even craft an enrichment activity for your pet that will give you both some mental stimulation.
Dogs, especially, provide you with a good excuse to get outside for a little bit each day. Whether that is playing fetch in the yard or going for a walk around the neighborhood, get outside with your dog or other pet if you can. There are mental benefits of getting outdoors. These activities also get you exercising and can help your physical health.
With such uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, jobs in limbo, and kids home all day, many people are feeling coronavirus anxiety and stress. Luckily, pets can help provide some relief. Spend some time petting your cat or dog. Watch your fish swimming in your fish tank. Take a moment out of your day to focus on your pet and give yourself a break from all of stressful and anxious thoughts that may be flooding your mind.
If you lost your job because of COVID-19 or are feeling a lack of purpose because of all your newfound free time, pets may be able to help. While fun, pets also require a certain amount of responsibility, with some requiring more care than others. Although some pets may be easier to take care of than others, being responsible for another living thing that relies on you can give you a sense of purpose. This sense of purpose can be especially important when you feel like you do not have much else to contribute right now.
While pets can improve mental health during quarantine, you can’t completely rely on them to help with mental health disorders. If you or someone you care about is struggling mentally because of COVID-19, it is okay to ask for professional help. Our Boca residential mental health facility is still open and taking every precaution to keep our patients safe at this time.
Instead of sitting at home and letting your anxiety or depression overwhelm you, take this time to get help for your mental health problems.