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When we think about support and how to get it, our minds don’t necessarily always go
towards animals. However, some of the best kind of unconditional support to receive can come from our canine friends. That furry playmate that greets us when we come home from a long day at school or work and seems to be the happiest creature alive just by seeing our face, is definitely a positive daily dose to receive. No matter what, we can always count on them to cheer up our day.
Dogs Keep Us Grounded
Mental health can be the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge is
there. Unfortunately, this only adds to our symptoms and worsens them more and more slowly each day. Whether it be that we are struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and/or any other feelings of helplessness, an emotional support dog might be just what the doctor recommends to help keep calm and soothe us back down. Sensing and detecting our emotions are powerful and intuitive skills that dogs possess.
According to Doghealth.com, if you act happy your dog will wag excitedly and present
her favorite toy for you to toss. Hang your head in sorrow and she’ll slink over and affectionately press her head in your lap. Having a constant living presence around, (especially such a lovable one) that can recognize when we are feeling down and instinctively tries to lift our spirits up when they realize it, is something you cannot put a price on.
Dogs can help give us a sense of meaning and purpose. They give us a reason to get
out of bed in the morning and exercise by taking them on walks, and even provide us with a sense of purpose because we are taking care of another living being. Their mere existence around us can help establish a sense of comfort and companionship which is crucial to our mental health. We get back the energy that we put into something and with a cheerful pal like a dog as our companion, we are able to reflect a positive correlation of emotions increasing day by day.
Furry Playmates to Social Gatherers
When we are struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other mental disorder, it can
unfortunately become easier to want to isolate ourselves from the outside world. We start to get fueled by a need to disconnect which only elevates our symptoms. A type of self-fulfilling prophecy presents itself where we are not feeling at our best, so we become unmotivated to seek the company of others. This leads to shortening our social circle, and since we start to find ourselves more and more alone, we start to convince ourselves that we actually are. We then don’t find the need to try, which only enables the behavior.
According to an article on The Perils of Social Isolation in Psychology Today, our tendency to self-isolate increases levels of stress hormones in the body and leads to poor sleep, a compromised immune system, and, in the elderly, cognitive decline.
When was the last time you had a conversation with your neighbors? In terms of
proximity, our neighbors are the closest people for us to have the opportunity to meet and make potential friends. However, for the most part we tend to just smile and nod or keep walking the other way. Even the friends that we do have were strangers to us at one point, but we would have never made the bond if there was no initiative for conversation to be made.
Most of the time it might feel like there’s no easy way to break the ice. The great benefit that dogs give us, is the positive reaction that they tend to have on most people when they see them. They are the perfect gateway to not only get us out the door, but to meet people such as other fellow dog owners. We are accomplishing more than one thing at once. We are not only aiding our mental well-being surrounding ourselves with an animal that provides us with a calming feeling of support but at the same time allowing ourselves to make a social connection with new people that can most likely also have a positive impact on us as well.
Overall, the next time you are sad, isolated, overwhelmed, or just feeling down for any reason, consider surrounding yourself with a fun furry playmate to help cheer up your day.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, call (714) 828-2000.
Here at the Straight Talk OC Counseling Center, your mental well-being is our
highest priority. Visit www.straightalkcounseling.org to learn more about our affordable mental health services today!
LLC, A., 2020. How Dogs Sense Emotions. [online] Doghealth.com. Available at:
[Accessed 9 March 2020].
Psychology Today. 2020. The Perils Of Social Isolation. [online] Available at:
isolation> [Accessed 9 March 2020].