I got my first pet when I was a young child. She was a white poodle named Peppy who ran away after someone left the front door open. I was so sad. Our family got another pet, but it was not the same as Peppy. Since then, I’ve had almost twenty furry friends, including one rabbit, two dogs, 6 birds, and 10 cats. Waking up to the sounds of birds chirping or to a dog whimpering to go outside is a reminder that life exists outside of self. And during a pandemic, social isolation is both a pervasive and common issue. Having a pet to care for and be a companion during the pandemic can bolster and support positive mental health. A Fresh Start Therapy can show you how.
Having a Pet Throughout the Pandemic
In 2020, I was initially annoyed about having another living being “stuck” in the house with me 24/7/365. It was frustrating because cats can be clingy. Well, my cat can be clingy. Trying to hold telehealth sessions in a calm space while keeping your cat from jumping on your desk and walking in front of your computer screen can be tricky at best.
Yet, this kind of companionship is often vital to maintaining positive mental health. Especially during this time of increased social isolation. However, there are some things to keep in mind to serve yourself and your pet better:
- Quantity of time is a factor: Whether it’s now, in the midst of the pandemic, or later, reviewing your schedule for your availability to care for a pet is step one. Your anxiety or depression could get worse if this is not considered. Be sure to talk with your mental health professional before making this important life decision.
- Here are some options: You can decide to adopt or purchase a pet. You could also pick pets that require very little of your time to remain healthy (i.e., various species of fish or birds). Fostering a furry friend is a good idea for one who wants to care for a pet but doesn’t have the time. Lastly, you could always pet sit for a friend or become a professional pet caretaker through any popular pet-sitting app. This will give you some time to spend with animals you like and provide a structure that does not put all the responsibility on you, which could be stressful.
Why It Is Helpful to Care for a Pet During the Pandemic
Here are a few reasons along with a few common mental health diagnoses to keep in mind:
To motivate you in the morning. Knowing that another living creature needs you can sometimes help battle Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. Long winters in cities known to be traditionally cold or freezing this time of year may negatively impact your mood during the coldest months. It may take longer for you to get out of bed or maybe even eat. Knowing that your cute furry friend is dependent on you can make all the difference in your mood. It really can help to bring you out of a SAD morning.
- To help to regulate your mood. We all need support to regulate our mental and emotional states. An animal can be comforting when you’re having a hard time maintaining your mood. I’ve seen how a cat can positively impact someone’s mood! Like Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, persons with mood disorders could benefit from consistent support and affection from a dog or cat.
- To promote healing. Chronic health conditions, whether physical or mental, can impact social lives with great complexity. Persons who have survived hospital stays after being diagnosed with COVID-19 know how difficult it is to heal without the presence of loved ones. Additionally, feeling “normal” or being “like everyone else” is often what patients with these conditions seek. Dogs can be loyal and loving members of families. They can be trained to serve as emotional support and also, to help with chores and errands. Ultimately, along with your medical team, dogs can make a big difference in your overall attitude about getting better.
Improve Your Mental Health with Support from A Fresh Start Therapy
You can learn more about fostering positive mental health by calling A Fresh Start Therapy today at 855.325.3909. We can help you if you are going through a difficult time struggling with depressive or anxiety disorders. We can also be there to help you keep your mental health positive. Discover what we have to offer.