Anxiety can be incredibly overwhelming to conquer alone. That’s why I battle my daily mental health issues with help from my ESA, or emotional support animal. Though I’ve had Gussie, my 11-year-old Chow mix, since he was a little fluff ball, I only recently made the decision to register him as an emotional support animal for my GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder).
It’s an undisputed fact that pets improve the lives of their owners. This is especially accurate with mental health disorders, such as anxiety. I know that on an extra rough day of negative thoughts or ruminating, the idea of coming home to unconditional love and acceptance can keep me going. Sometimes, getting out of bed can be difficult, but when another life is counting on you to go outside for a walk, you feel a sense of purpose and productiveness that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
Here are some of the most important advantages having an emotional support animals offers:
Dealing with mental illness can be extremely isolating. Often, people who are struggling with these types of issues have trouble functioning in public or social settings. Since they feel uncomfortable and insecure, they tend to isolate themselves. Having an emotional support animal has not only been proven to reduce these feelings of loneliness and isolation – Fido is a great ice breaker. Increasing the ability to socialize, dogs love to go on walks, giving the owner an opportunity to interact with other people while on the walk or even visiting a park, or the beach. The animal provides companionship and the owner feels more comfortable going about their day with the furry friend’s presence.
More Fur, Less Stress
One of the most common issues of those who are dealing with mental health is panic. When you feel like you can’t trust your own mind, it’s easy to panic and encounter feelings of severe anxiety. With an emotional support animal by your side, these feelings can be counteracted. Studies have shown that stress levels actually decrease when a person is interacting with a trusted animal.
Let’s Get Physical
Although there are numerous mental health benefits to having an emotional support animal, rescuing a pet gets you up and moving. Whether it’s taking a walk around the block or even just playing out in the yard, getting outdoors and being active has positive mental and physical effects.
Some of the positive physical effects of owning an emotional support animal include increased physical activity, lower triglyceride levels, lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Spending time with my emotional support animal, Gussie, has empowered me and supported my healing with anxiety. Whether you choose to adopt a pet or ask for more information on emotional support animals, don’t wait to take advantage of the benefits of snuggling with your favorite feline or Fido.