How Pets Help Us Live A More Well-Balanced Life

  • 22/09/2020
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If you ask any pet owner to talk about how their pet has changed their life, you’re likely to get a full-detailed speech and presentation, complete with a slide show and all. The bond between humans and pets can be so strong that most consider their furry companion a member of the family. Some might even enjoy their pets more than their actual family — no judgments here. Furthermore, pets are such a prominent figure in people’s lives that many businesses across the United States are changing to be more pet-friendly.

While most of us are aware that our pets help make our everyday lives brighter and full of love and affection, our furry companions can also actually help us live a more well-balanced, healthy lifestyle. And just when you thought your pet couldn’t possibly get any better.

If you’re not a pet owner yet, but you’ve been considering adopting one, or you’re just curious to know more about how pets can better our lives, here some ways a furry companion can enhance the balance within your life.   

Pets Encourage a Positive Work-Life Balance

With the current COVID-19 pandemic happening across the world, many are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance. One might even argue that these days, this crucial balance is more difficult to maintain due to the nature of regularly working from home. If your home is your office, how do you disconnect from work and your responsibilities? It’s a lot easier to constantly check a few emails or finish up some last-minute reports when your office is just a few steps away.

 Additionally, there is now a significant increase in overstressed, overworked essential workers who are struggling to get through these unprecedented times. Those working in crucial facets of the healthcare industry have likely suffered mentally, emotionally, and physically over the course of this past year. It’s been rough for everyone as COVID-19 takes its toll on the populace, but essential workers, in particular, have a lot of pressure on them.

When working in a stressful field such as nursing, it can be difficult to find a work-life balance you’re happy with — even when there’s not a global pandemic happening. It’s important for those on the front lines to set better boundaries and take a step back, especially those in leading or management positions. Luckily, this is where owning a pet can really help.

Consider how often a pet, be it a dog, bird, snake, or guinea pig, requires your attention. Obviously, some pets are needier than others, but ultimately pets serve as a good reminder to take a break. Dogs enjoy having playtime with you and don’t care if your email inbox is overflowing at the moment, they just want to play a few rounds of tug-o-war or fetch. You would be hard-pressed to find a cat owner who doesn’t stop at some point in the day to cuddle and pet their beloved feline. Even watching your pet fish zoom around their tank during a mid-day feeding can be entertaining and relaxing.

Pets help us de-stress and take our minds off of work. As COVID-19 continues to shake up our world and alter the norms of society, having an outlet for all of our anxieties, stress, and worries is important. Essential workers, in particular, can really benefit from the calming effects that come from simple interactions, such as petting and coddling a benevolent animal companion.

With a Pet, You’ll Be Feeling Fine    

Not to sound too much like your parents, but owning a pet does come with a lot of responsibilities. Though it may not seem like it at times, such as when you’re having clean out the cat litter box, these responsibilities can actually foster a better balance in life. Our pets depend on us and most want to spend time with us. This makes it a lot easier to focus on them and their needs, rather than stressing about work or the future.

Furthermore, some pets, like dogs, can encourage you to have better social habits. Any good dog owner should socialize their puppy to help with its development. This means you’re more inclined to schedule doggie playdates with friends or visit a nearby dog park, which presents not only more socializing opportunities for your dog but you as well.

Dogs (and sometimes, cats) also love to go on walks which can present more chances to get to know your neighbors and maybe even see areas of your neighborhood you never knew existed. Ultimately, it’s pretty hard to stay chained, mentally or physically, to your work when you have a pet in desperate need of your love, time, and affection.

Pets Give More Opportunities for Kindness

As pet owners, you devote a lot of money and care towards your animal companion, without asking for much in return. Our pets don’t pay rent, clean up after themselves, and sometimes, they even chew up our favorite shoes or scratch up the furniture. Yet, even so, this in no way affects the amount of love you have for them or stops you from continuing to supply them with plenty of toys and treats.

Given the dynamic between humans and their pets, having qualities like compassion, kindness, and selflessness are essential to being a good pet owner. In fact, this relationship between man and beast is so significant that having a pet around the house can actually help children learn and understand important social skills.

As those at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry explain, “Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child's self-esteem and self-confidence. Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy.” Children can learn about sharing and the importance of respecting boundaries by watching their pets interact as well. As long as the environment is positive and neither animal nor child is under stress or scared, pets are great teachers.

Furthermore, our pets often encourage us to be better people by giving us the perfect excuse to do more random acts of kindness. Volunteering to walk your elderly neighbor’s dog alongside your own, bringing your pet rabbit to a senior center for an hour or two, the possibilities are really endless. Best of all, showing kindness and compassion doesn’t just benefit those we help. Sharing with others and doing more acts of generosity can lead people to have higher levels of psychological flourishing. This helps to give some balance to the many stressors in life by presenting more moments that can elevate your mood and generally make you feel better about yourself, all while giving back to your community.

Pets Can Help Create a Perfect Schedule

Sometimes when we feel that our life has become off-balance, what’s really going on is we have far too much on our plate to handle. This is another area where pets can help. To put it simply, pets don’t care about important work deadlines or attending family functions. Animals really tend to only focus on the basics of life: food, water, shelter, and, if they can get them, leg-tapping scratches behind the ear. While our pets certainly rely on us to keep them safe and healthy, particularly in limited spaces such as apartments, a lot of what they do throughout the day is simply instinctual.

Pets stick to their daily routine as closely as they can. Just ask any pet owner how they feel about Daylight Saving’s Time. To you it might not seem like much of a system, lounging around on the couch or relaxing under a heat-lamp all day long, but for your pets, it’s a tried and true schedule. The next time you begin to feel overwhelmed, or even the opposite, completely unmotivated and inspired, try taking a page out of your pet’s lifestyle guide.

What basic needs are you missing from your life and schedule: Are you staying hydrated? Are you supplying your body with the right nutrition? Is your environment well-suited for your needs, as well as clean and organized? Are you getting enough exercise? When was the last time you visited your doctor for a check-up? Sometimes, returning to the basics of life can help you re-center yourself and your priorities.

Simply Put, Pets are Wholly Beneficial

Life can be like a rollercoaster. Sometimes, we get to experience really high highs; the whole world is your oyster as you sit perched atop the tracks looking out over rooftops and trees. However, on the other hand, we also have to deal with the low lows. It’s all a normal part of life but having a pet around can help make the ride a bit more enjoyable as well as help balance out those highs and lows.

As experts try to better understand the relationship between humans and animals, it’s hard to deny the positive effects they can have on us and our lives. While a pet might not help you live longer, they are a great source of motivation, compassion, and general positivity. And honestly, who doesn’t need more of that in their life?

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