Are you currently in some kind of treatment for your mental health struggles? While therapy, medication management, and a strong support network are critical building blogs for recovery and wellbeing, there are additional things that you can do to help yourself feel better. Have you considered getting a therapy pet (otherwise known as an emotional support animal)?
It’s important to keep in mind that emotional support animals aren’t the same as service animals, and they don’t (and shouldn’t) come with the same benefits. That said, there are several great things about having a support animal. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Love and Company
It’s common for mental health struggles to stem from (or be exacerbated by) feelings of isolation. Many people who struggle with their mental health isolate themselves from others or find themselves isolated through life circumstances.
While it’s difficult to branch out and connect with friends and family (especially early in treatment), an emotional support animal is an instant companion.
Your support animal will love you unconditionally if you’re lucky, and this love is helpful. Some people feel more responsible for their own mental health if they have a pet that loves and depends on them.
If you’re a dog person, here are some of the Best Dog Breeds for an Emotional Support Animal. Because dogs are known for their loyalty, they’re a great choice.
2. Emotional Regulation
Did you know that animals can help you regulate your emotions?
While this isn’t true of all animals (your emotional support iguana may not be quite as comforting), petting furry animals like cats and dogs can lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone.
There are some benefits to having an emotional support cat in particular. Research suggests that a cat’s purr may lower symptoms of stress (like rapid breathing) and it may lower your blood pressure. Bonus: it makes the cat happy too and it’s a great bonding experience.
3. Enhanced Self-Esteem
Many pet owners report improved self-esteem through their pet-ownership. But why does that happen?
This functions similarly to the self-esteem benefits of gardening. There’s something ego-boosting about having the ability to raise and protect something.
When your pets are thriving, their coats are brushed, their litter boxes are clean, and their bellies are full, you’ll get a self-esteem boost through knowing that you’re the cause of all of that.
Having an emotional support animal forces you into developing some kind of routine. While you may be able to lay around all day in despair when you don’t have any pets, it’s much harder to do when you have a pet waking you up bright and early in need of breakfast.
Your animals need to play, go outside, and eat on a schedule. This means that you also need to adapt to that schedule. Having a structure like this is great for your mental health.
Do You Need a Therapy Pet?
If you’re interested in getting an official therapy pet or emotional support animal, you’ll need a referral from your mental health professional. A true emotional support animal will improve your quality of life, and your therapist or psychiatrist may decide that having one is a good decision.
Enhance your life with an emotional support animal today.
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