Coronavirus was a devastating time for many families across the UK, but it also represented a second, hidden, more insidious epidemic – loneliness. One in four UK adults reported feelings of loneliness during the pandemic’s peak in November, a huge number reflecting the effects of social distancing and lockdowns on a population usually used to friendships and collaboration.
The effects are still being felt today, with many people feeling more estranged from their previous circles than ever before, but could adopting a dog offset the loneliness woes? Here are four ways in which having a dog could well be good for your mental health.
Benefits Of Having A Dog On Your Mental Health!
Staving Off Loneliness
At its most basic, the act of caring for a pet dog can remove any sense of loneliness you have in your life – especially if you’re living alone. You are a meaningful and vital part of your dog’s life, tasked with taking them for walks, sourcing them the best dog food, and showing them a full life. And conversely, having a living being in your life with you can ground you, make you feel less adrift, and show you evidence that you are loved directly.
Exercise has been exhaustively proven to improve mood in people; exercising releases endorphins, allowing you to regulate your emotions day-to-day better if you keep up with a regular exercise routine. This routine does not have to involve labored trips to the gym every day – the simple act of taking your little furry friend for a walk or jog three times a day is more than enough to get the happy juices flowing. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that your obligations to walkies mean you have to leave the house and savor fresh air!
Physical contact is a huge factor with regard to mood, and being deprived of it for long periods can certainly be detrimental to our mental health. Having a living, breathing, loving doggo to hug and fuss over works wonders for this, and in some studies, it has also been proven to reduce anxiety.
Meeting New People
If your social circle has shrunk a little since the pandemic, dog ownership is an excellent portal back into meeting like-minded folk. Whether you bump into dog walkers on a similar routine to you or seek out dog-walking programs on specific days, you can bond with new people over the shared interest of your pets.