While many of us consider the social distancing measures in place across the world for our own safety and wellness, it does not necessarily mean that the practice is always easy. For example, some experts have acknowledged that the ways that social distancing and shelter-in-place measures can impact our mental health as we grapple with not seeing our friends and loved ones that do not live with us for the time being. For those of us that have pets, however, there are a plethora of ways that they can keep us feeling mentally well during difficult times. In this article, Freshpet reviews a few ways that our dogs can positively contribute to our efforts to maintain our mental health during social distancing measures.
Our Dogs Can Have a Stress Buffering Effect on Us
Freshpet acknowledges that there are quite a few studies that suggest interacting with friendly dogs can lower our stress levels during more difficult times. This assertion is reflected in terms of both people’s perceived sense of well-being and in terms of measurable, physiological readings such as lowering our heart rates, blood pressure, and cortisol (the stress hormone). Experts believe the reason that our dogs can have such a positive effect on us in these ways is because they offer us support much like we would receive from friends and family, and social support is exactly what some of us need to power through.
Responsibilities and Activities with Our Dogs Work as Positive Coping Mechanisms
While staying inside and sticking with social distancing measures is an excellent way to stay safe during the current crisis, it does have the capacity to have the unfortunate effect of giving us more time to worry. What is important to remember is that some of our mental energy can be refocused on something positive, such as spending quality time with our pets, keeping a routine, and participating in active exercise with them such as walks or playtime. Exercise with your dog is a great form of stress relief and walks have the added benefit of providing some much-needed scenery that can break up your day. Freshpet recommends avoiding more crowded places when walking or exercising with your dog, as it helps reduce the risk of transmission. In some cases, our blues during social distancing stem from a lack of a routine that gives us the same sense of normalcy we had when we were going out more frequently. Remember that taking care of your dog is an excellent way to keep a routine and maintain focus on tasks that can help you feel better amidst your apprehensions.