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4 ways pets positively impact our mental health

The joy and meaning that a pet can bring to one's life is often indescribable. Beyondblue recently outlined some of the benefits of owning a pet for your emotional and psychological wellbeing. 

While we are the ones who buy, feed, walk and care for our pets, it is often the pet himself or herself who takes care of us. Having owned a gorgeous golden retriever for almost 15 years, I can attest to the unspoken uplifting of emotions that comes with having such a companion. 

The bond one shares with a pet – whether it be a dog, cat, rabbit, fish or bird – can exponentially improve one's mental health, according to leading Australian advocacy and research group beyondblue. 

Pets don't judge

"You don't need to explain to them why you haven't left the house in a couple of days or why you haven't brushed your hair," beyondblue mused. 

"You don't need to impress them with witty one-liners or solve problems for them. Pets love you without judgement and they're happy to be in your company."

Pets keep you company

"When you're not feeling great about yourself or you're not up to interacting with people, pets are there for you. They're great to talk to (perhaps because they can't talk back) and they pick up when you're not feeling 100 per cent," beyondblue added.

"They often have a calming influence. And let's be honest, they're the only housemates you can't stay mad at when they make a mess."

Pets can encourage you to be more active

You can't walk a fish, but pets such as dogs, cats and rabbits often enjoy spending time outdoors. "Head outside; join your pets in their playtime and enjoy the fresh air together," the group wrote.

"Walking the dog is one of those activities people often think of as a chore, but moderate exercise is just as helpful for your wellbeing as it is for your pet's. It also gives you and your dog the opportunity to socialise. Mingling with other dog owners can be a great way to manage social anxiety because you can ease into a conversation by talking about your dogs."

Taking care of a pet can remind you to take better care of yourself

"If you've ever owned a pet, you will have been on the receiving end of the wide-eyed stare that says, 'It's dinner time, human. Please feed me'. Pets love routines and routines are good for people too," beyondblue argued. 

"Pets encourage you to wake, eat, play, exercise and sleep at regular times. Routines give your days purpose and structure which are supportive factors to manage conditions depression and anxiety."

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain