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Improve Your Mental Health Get a Dog

By Paul Rothbart

Life can be full of stress and anxiety. Sometimes it seems your mental health is challenged on a daily basis. Finding ways to manage stress and stay mindful and focused are good methods for maintaining mental health. Hobbies, relaxation time, and meditation are excellent in this capacity. You may not be aware of this if you don't have one, but owning a dog can be very good for your mental health. I can attest to this first-hand. I got a puppy several months ago. He is a lot of work, but my life has been changed for the better. Here are some science-backed ways a dog can help improve your mental health.

Dogs Can Provide Stress Relief

Recent research has shown that having access to a dog at work can have psychological benefits. More and more companies such as Amazon and Etsy, are providing space where employees can interact with dogs. The workers found that spending a little time with a canine friend reduced stress and improved their moods. These stress-relieving capabilities of dogs have also been demonstrated with college students, a group that experiences plenty of anxiety. The University of British Columbia provided 246 students with therapy dogs. They were interviewed both before and after petting and cuddling with the dogs. The students reported greater happiness, more energy, and less stress after their dog encounter.

Dogs Can Teach Us Mindfulness

Dogs naturally live in the moment. They stretch out in front of a fireplace on a cold winter evening, doing nothing more than enjoying the warmth. When taking a dog for a walk, notice how they take in the sights, sounds, and especially smells as they come. Using their senses to explore the environment moment to moment. That's a good lesson for humans. As you walk your dog, take deep breaths and be aware of them. Look where your dog is looking and try to hear what it hears. Revel in just being alive. This is an important lesson that dogs have naturally mastered. 

Dogs Get Us Up and Moving

Your dog needs to be walked. That is a great way to increase your level of activity. I have actually lost some weight since getting a dog. Walking with your canine pal is fun. You don't even realize how much exercise you are getting. Dogs also have a knack for drawing people in, giving you a chance to socialize. Interacting with others is proven to be good for your mental health. Some people have even met their significant other because of their dog. Being active, meeting new people, and bonding with your dog can all help improve your mental health.

Good mental health is important to a happy productive life. Managing stress and anxiety is not easy and you need all the tools you can get. Having a dog in your life can be one of the best ways to relieve stress and stay mentally healthy. If you have a dog, you know this, if you don't, think about getting one. I'm going to go play with my dog now. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Taylorsville, Utah

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