If you already own a pet, then you’re likely to be well aware of the uplifting effect that a pet can have on your mood when you’re feeling sad.
But have you ever wondered why this is?
Here are a few scientifically-backed reasons as to how a pet is genuinely able to make a person feel better when they are feeling down…
FEEL-GOOD BRAIN CHEMICALS
Your brain produces a number of different natural chemicals that each have their own effect on your mood.
One of these chemicals is called oxytocin. When the brain releases this, you immediately feel happier and more loved.
Not only that, but the oxytocin then sends signals to the other neurotransmitters in the brain, encouraging it to release other feel-good hormones, such as:
How are these feel-good brain chemicals linked to pets?
Well, research shows that when you stroke a pet, this triggers your brain to produce and release an increased amount of oxytocin. This, in turn, will quickly have an uplifting effect on your mood.
In fact, you don’t even necessarily need to stroke a pet to experience these benefits…
Simply looking into your pet’s eyes can have similar effects!
COMFORT AND EMPATHY
Not only can many animals sense your emotions, but they can also tell whether you are feeling happy or sad. This is a concept officially known as emotional contagion, and it is something that is being increasingly studied.
While research may still be ongoing, what we do know is that pets, whether they can sense your sadness or not, offer so much comfort and empathy.
Your pet will be there to support you whenever you are feeling down, and your pet is also guaranteed to be one of the best listeners you will ever find! Just talking to your pet about whatever it is that is bothering you can actually increase your problem-solving abilities, meaning that you may even find a logical and productive way to overcome your sadness.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
While a fish or a hamster may not provide this benefit, other pets, such as dogs and cats, do tend to encourage their owners to spend more time outdoors.
This is especially the case with dogs, and dog owners will likely find themselves outdoors so much more than they would have been, all because of their dog.
Did you know that spending more time outdoors can have a direct effect on how happy you’re feeling?
Even if you just spend half an hour a day at your local park with your dog, you will experience:
• Less stress
• More empathy
• Increased concentration and creativity
• An increase in physical fitness
• An improvement in overall health
As you can imagine, when experiencing all of those different benefits, your sadness will soon disappear!
Pets add so much to our lives, and the fact that an animal can almost immediately make a person feel happier is a huge added bonus for pet owners. Whether you own a dog, a cat, a fish, or anything else, try turning to your pet the next time you are feeling sad for an instant mood lift. Learn more here about how your pets can help boost your mood!