How your pet can be your greatest mental health helper during lockdown

Dogs, cats and fish can all help your mindset.

Having a pet is always good for company and bringing a smile to your face, and never more so than in lockdown. An animal companion can boost your mood, give you a sense of purpose, as well as something to hug if you live alone.

Here’s why a pet can be just what you need when you’re living through the uncertainty of isolation…

They give you routine and balance

Routine can be hard to manage at the moment, even if you’re able to work from home, and so need to check in with your boss or team. On days off or weekends, minutes can either drag or speed by, so you have no idea how it got to 4pm without you being dressed, again.

But a pet gives you a reason to get up and structure your day. Everything from feeding to playing with them gives you little pinpoints during the day that can help you keep going, and stay occupied.

They induce mindfulness without even doing anything

Studies have shown that petting an animal can help reduce anxiety, and bring a sense of peace – whether you’re staring at your cat as it sunbathes, watching your fish swim around, or stroking your dog’s head, there’s something so mindful about having an animal by your side.

They’re a reason to communicate with others

WhatsApp-ing mum and dad has become a regular occurrence – and you make sure to do it more often because you know you’ll also see the dogs, right?

Daily pics of your pet can be a great way to reach out to friends you might otherwise feel you are ‘bothering’ with catch-up texts.

They’re someone to talk to…

No, you’re not going crazy if you talk to your pet! If you live by yourself you may well do this anyway, but having a pet around can be a good way to get some emotions out that would otherwise stay buried.

You can chat to your bird about your coronavirus fears, tell your cat that you love them, and have huge hugs with your dog, of course.

They bring joy to your Zoom meetings

Because everybody loves a cat walking across the screen to distract from talking about budgets and deadlines, or a hello from a gecko.

They get you outside

Of course, a dog is the ultimate ‘outside’ friend, as you need to take it for a walk. But if you have outside space, letting your pet out can mean you remember to go outside, too – it’s good to be reminded to get your quota of fresh air.

And exercising…

You don’t need to go outdoors with your pet to exercise all the time though. From playing with your cat, to dog yoga, a pet can become part of your indoor lockdown exercise routine, too. Who needs a gym class when you’ve got your pet to stretch with?

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