If You Feel Stressed Out, Try “Pet Therapy”
When you’re under stress, it is natural to want relief: the quicker the better. However, it can be tempting to choose unhealthy ways to get relief such at “retail therapy,” binge eating, alcohol consumption or angry outbursts.
In the last few years, I have found more healthy ways to reduce my stress. I go for a walk, take a bike ride or talk to a friend on the telephone. One stress reduction method I discovered completely by accident.
Several years ago, my family came home with a puppy that someone had given to them at a carwash. He is a very cute Chihuahua and Jack Russell Terrier mix. We named him “Buddy” and he quickly proved to be a loyal, loving pet. He has often made us laugh with his playful antics. I had not owned a dog since I was a child, and I had forgotten how much fun they were.
I noticed that petting and playing with Buddy quickly got me into a good mood. This mood elevation even occurred when I was dealing with stress due to an important deadline that was quickly approaching. I assumed that my happier mood was unique to me because I am such a dog lover. However, I recently read about a fascinating study conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Researchers found that people’s levels of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin (three important hormones that combat negative moods) surge after just 15 minutes of petting a favorite animal. These findings were also supported by a different study conducted by the UCLA Medical Center. Scientists at this prestigious medical center found that anxiety levels dropped 24 percent within twelve minutes of stroking a pet.
Now it is your turn. What healthy ways have you discovered for reducing stress?