Over the past 18 months, I have suffered from depression and anxiety due to the trauma of domestic violence and the changes within my brain due to extensive meth use.
One of the things that I know has helped me a lot to deal with my mental health and to teach me mindfulness is owning a pet.
I remember early on in my recovery, when I first discovered mindfulness, I learnt how to practice it by observing my pets. By watching them, I saw how they focused on the moment, didn’t get distracted and were intent on the task at hand. For example: my dog eating his bone, or trying to catch a butterfly, and my cat enjoying a scratch or watching her kittens play.
Studies have shown that owning a pet can alleviate anxiety, stress and depression in all ages. Adults who form strong emotional bonds with dogs notice a positive impact on their mental health. Pet ownership can also improve self-esteem and help to develop empathy in children.
A growing body of literature suggests that Animal Assisted Therapy can be an effective, complementary treatment for reducing depression and improving mood.
Not only is pet ownership associated with decreased effects of depression, but also the effect of pet ownership tended to moderate the effect of depression on the mortality rate in people suffering from depression.
For me, having pets (3 cats and a dog), has really helped with depression and feelings of loneliness due to my social anxiety. Constant companionship, love and affection are just a few of the benefits I have found from owning pets.
Me and my whippet 'Simba"