Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

By Linda Williams

Experiencing occasional anxiety is human nature, but when anxious feelings start to seep into your day-to-day life, it can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health. If you’re constantly obsessing over little details, lacking control day-to-day, or sleeping restlessly, it may be time to take a long, hard look at your mental health.

In times of emotional crisis, many people turn to animals for support—and for good reason. Emotional support animals provide loving companionship while forcing you to get up and moving, which can reduce the severity and duration of anxiety symptoms. Furry friends can also help ground you in times of stress, allowing you to reconnect with your body and diminish overwhelming feelings. If you’re interested in adopting a canine companion to benefit your mental health, here are a few things to keep in mind while searching for the perfect pup.

Choose your dog breed wisely

Trying to manage a rambunctious or high-strung dog can be emotionally taxing and stressful, counterproductive for decreasing anxiety. However, many dog breeds have a stellar track record as low-key companions, which is why you should learn more about calm dog breeds when taking the plunge into animal ownership. If you’re looking for a large dog, Labrador Retrievers and Bernese Mountain breeds are even-tempered and happy to help in times of hardship. Smaller varieties like the Cavalier King Charles and Cocker Spaniels love snuggling up to relieve pressure without requiring specialized care to keep them happy.

Physical activity

An essential part of dog ownership is making sure your dog gets adequate exercise. Even the calmest breeds need daily playtime and neighborhood walkabouts to release pent-up energy and socialize with other canine friends. Walking with your dog or taking them to parks also allows you to engage in much-needed physical activity, which helps stimulate endorphins, easing anxieties. Moving your body, breathing in the fresh air, and changing the scenery is a great way to refocus and shake off overwhelming negative emotions.

Routine

Sticking to a daily routine with your dog can set you up for success and lessen anxious feelings. When you have a dog, moping around in bed all morning is no longer an option. Just because you’re okay with a late breakfast doesn’t mean your dog is. Chances are they’ll be expecting a walk to stretch their legs after a night cuddled next to you. Having structure allows you to nip anxiety-inducing habits in the bud and create a mental snapshot of your upcoming day.

Photo by Stainless Images on Unsplash

New friendships

Although it’s essential to stoke your relationship with your canine companion, they’ll also need interaction with other furry friends. Dog-friendly parks are a watering hole for your pet to meet new pups and socialize. Plus, you can interact with like-minded dog-lovers, allowing you to forget about daily stressors for a moment in time. Getting to know someone with similar interests could eventually lead to a blossoming friendship, puppy playdates, and group walks with your new friends.

Companionship

Loneliness is unavoidable during life—however, prolonged solitude coupled with anxiety can be incredibly isolating. Luckily, emotional support animals offer companionship and unconditional love to those in need without expecting emotionally draining feedback in return. Support dogs provide you with a shoulder to cry on and a judgment-free zone to let your fears and worries out. On particularly rough days, having a furry friend to hug and hold onto can help ease intense anxieties and lessen depressive episodes.

To conclude

Everyone experiences mental pitfalls from time to time. Why go at it alone when you can have a canine companion at your side to ease worries and intense feelings? Emotional support dogs provide you with unconditional love and comfort, get you out of the house for much-needed exercise, and allow you to focus your attention on something other than anxious feelings.

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