Reflecting on mental health wellness this month, we should look to what brings us joy every day. While writing this column, I’m away from home celebrating family birthdays and a graduation. For this trip, my dog, RockZ is staying with family. This is my third day away, and I’m really missing her.
I am reminded on how much I depend on her for comfort, joy, laughter, and companionship. Wow! I mistakenly thought I took care of her. The opposite is obviously true; she takes care of me in so many ways.
According to Mental Health America (MHA), nearly 70% Of U.S. Households (84.6 million) own a pet. Of those, 80% believe their pets bring them happiness and emotional support; 55% believe their pets reduce anxiety and depression; and 66% believe their pets relieve stress. Pets are important to our mental well-being in so many ways. How many times have you looked at an animal and felt incredible joy? We all respond to animals.
Pet-friendly workplaces are good for business. Workplaces that adopt pet-friendly policies can experience benefits like: attracting more job candidates; keeping their employees longer; better employee health; and increased productivity among workers. When you walk into a business who honors their pet by bringing them to work, it is always a great experience; a special vibe of friendliness is experienced.
Since I do counseling in my home, RockZ believes that all my clients come to visit with her. She has an intuitive gift when my clients need her, she will get next to them and sometimes they don’t even realize the comfort she gives them as they pet her and talk to me.
The science supports the fact that pet ownership can help improve cardiovascular health and physical activity; decrease stress and lower blood pressure; and reduce loneliness, which increases risk of many chronic health conditions. For people receiving treatment, animal-assisted interventions reduce anger, anxiety, depression, and general distress, while improving the ability to socialize.
Finally, animals can and will improve your life experience. I have my human commitments to fulfill and then, I will be happy to return home to my best friend, my 6-pound Shih Tzu/poodle, RockZ. Remember my friends and readers, embrace 2 Samuel 12:3, “but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him”. Love God and All People, Amen.