Emotional Wellbeing


Mandy Kloppers

Why pets can be a natural aid for stress and anxiety

Often, it can seem like we simply have too much stress and worry in our lives and not enough time to prioritise wellness. One way to introduce some joy into your life is to get a pet – the positive impact of bringing an animal into your life is proven in studies

They’re great company 

One of the ironies of our hyper-connected world is that it leaves many of us feeling lonely. We may have hundreds of friends on Facebook and followers on Instagram, but no one to watch Netflix with in the evening. A pet is a loyal companion – is there a better feeling than an adoring cat curled on your lap, or a puppy excitedly greeting you when you get home?  

They encourage us to play 

As adults, we often forget how important it is to play. It’s fun, energizing, and reminds us of a more carefree time when we were kids. For people experiencing stress or anxiety, playing with a pet can be a particularly good way to let go of some of their problems for a few minutes and enjoy being in the moment. In many cases, they also encourage us to spend more time outdoors, getting some fresh air and exercise which will also help soothe their worries. 

Unconditional love 

Our dogs don’t get mad at us if we’re not in the mood to do anything. All our kittens want is to be fed and cuddled. If you’re stressed and anxious and simply can’t deal with people, pets provide the affection you need to feel better and ask for very little in return. We may shower them with treats anyway, but they just see that as a bonus – pets love us unconditionally.  

They make you take responsibility 

When you’re struggling with your mental health, sometimes it seems easiest to pull the blanket over your head and go back to bed for the day. That’s not possible when you have animals in your life to care for – and even if you just get up to feed them and exercise them for a few minutes, the chances are you’ll feel well enough then to face the rest of the day. Pets force us to prioritize their wellness over our own self-indulgence. 

You become more social 

If you live in a town or city where you don’t know many people, human interaction can be rare outside of work. That changes if you have a pet; people will stop you in the street to talk about them, and in no time you’ll know your neighbours, your local pet shop owner, your vet and other pet owners. They spark conversations with strangers all the time that would never happen otherwise, and will likely help you to make new friends. 

A word of warning – as we mentioned, owning a pet is a big responsibility. Make sure you’re ready before you take the plunge. Is your place appropriate for the pet you want? Are you financially secure enough? Do you feel ready emotionally to care for another being?   

While you figure it out, you can add art for animal lovers to your walls. A study in Japan has suggested that even looking at cute animal images can improve our concentration. 

If you are struggling with stress and anxiety – read our article on the benefits of CBT

Mandy X

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash