How pets can improve our mental health and wellbeing

A cat and a dog lying down together

In many ways, a pet can be a great source of comfort and can help us to live mentally healthier lives by relieving depression and anxiety, lowering stress levels and improving your overall wellbeing. Here’s how caring for a dog, cat or any other animal can help relieve depression and anxiety, lower stress levels and improve your overall wellbeing.

The benefits of pets:

  • Increases your activity: Walking, hiking, or running with your dog is a pleasant and gratifying way to get regular exercise. Dog owners are significantly more likely to achieve their daily exercise needs, according to studies.
  • Provides companionship: Caring for an animal may help you feel loved and needed while diverting your attention away from your issues, especially if you live alone.
  • Helps you meet new people: Owning a pet is a great way for owners to maintain new friendships with other pet owners. Particularly, dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks and in dog parks!
  • Reduces anxiety: the companionship of an animal may provide comfort, help reduce anxiety, and improve self-confidence in those who are nervous about stepping out of their comfort zone. Pets may teach you to be more attentive and to appreciate the present moment rather of stressing about what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow.
  • Adds structure to your day: Many pets, particularly dogs, require a lot of feeding and exercise, maintaining a consistent schedule keeps an animal balanced and calm. Whatever your mood, one look from your pet will get you out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for them.

Pets can also be a great source of comfort particularly for those with a specific condition such as ADHD as managing pets responsibilities can help them in certain areas of their life. Those with autism can also benefits from having a pet as it gives them a sense of unconditional love that helps them with their social skills as well as build their confidence.

How do I know if I’m ready for a pet?

When you’re deciding on which type of pet you want, you must consider:

  • How active are you?
  • Do you have much free time?
  • Are you okay financially to look after a pet as well as yourself/family?

If you can’t afford a pet, live somewhere that does not allow pets or you’re not allowed one there are many ways you can go around it. For example, you can spend time with your friends and family pets whether that be walking them, petting them, and taking care of them.

Otherwise, you could get in touch with your local rescue centre and ask them about any volunteering opportunities. It’s worth a try!

Related articles

Step One Charity New Logo

Step One Charity unveils fresh new look to reflect commitment to wellbeing across Devon

Introducing Step One Charity's refreshed brand identity to better reflect our mission of supporting individuals with mental health challenges, learning disabilities, and neurodiversity across Devon.

A brighter path to wellbeing: Introducing Step One Charity’s new brand

Discover Step One's refreshed look and learn how you can support our mission!
Person skydiving

Skydive for Step One Charity in 2024!

Take your fundraising to new heights by taking on our skydive challenge with Skydive Buzz! Jump for free when you raise £395 for Step One Charity.
Photo of woman smiling and a quote that reads: My favourite thing about being a support worker is making a difference to people’s lives. Giving people the help and support that I wish my mum and nan could have had.

Celebrating 10 years of Charlotte, Support Worker at Cypress Hospital

Driven by a deep personal connection to the cause, Charlotte has dedicated her career to making a positive difference in the lives of others. In this short Q&A, we delve into Charlotte’s journey with Step One Charity.
Person signing their name on an official document.

Make a Will Week: Top tips for writing your Will

Have you thought about writing your will but you’re not sure where to start? Often the process can simply be broken down into four practical questions which form the basis of any will.
Three people embracing eachother and smiling, surrounded by Christmas inspired DIY crafts.

How your donations can make a Difference This Christmas

Donations during the festive season allow us to continue supporting adults over 18 in Devon to manage their mental health, achieve employment goals and live more independently.
A man smiling and a quote reading: Make a Will Week: Andrew's experience

Make a Will Week: Andrew’s experience

Last year Andrew, made his will through Step One Charity’s Make a Will Week and made use of some of the personalised accessibility adaptations that our partner solicitors offer. Here, Andrew tells us about his experience.
A couple smiling outdoors

Make a Will Week: Michael and Noni’s experience

Read about Michael and Noni’s experience taking part in Step One Charity’s Make a Will Week.

Getting to know our new Psychologist: A Q&A with Lindsay Jones

With over 30 years of experience in the field of mental health, Lindsay’s impressive career has covered various sectors, including community, inpatient, and forensic settings.
©️ Copyright 2024 – Step One. Registered Charity Number: 235434 Company Number 393477 in England. Stratus House, Emperor Way, Exeter Business Park, Exeter, Devon, EX1 3QS. - Web Design by The Ambitions Agency