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Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 13 to 19 May 2024.

Just like our physical health, our mental health is really important to take care of and seek help for if we need it. The mental health awareness week in May acts as a great reminder of the importance of self care and reaching out to friends or family who might be struggling.

Our beloved pets can have a positive impact on our mental health in many ways. Lets consider some of them together…

1. Reducing anxiety

The companionship of a pet can help to reduce feelings of anxiety. By having a constant company in your home it can make you feel less alone and provide comfort in anxious situations.

2. Routine

Pets require routine and schedules to keep them healthy and happy. A regular routine can help us feel in control when life might feel a little stressful!

3. Exercise

One way of releasing endorphins is through exercise and dogs that require regular walks encourage us to get out of the house. It’s also a great way to connect with nature and get some fresh air.

4. Improve confidence and sociability

The pet owner community is one of love and many fellow owners are happy to talk about their pets with others. Meeting online friends or local dog walkers can improve our confidence in talking to others and approaching social situations.

5. Reducing stress

Petting animals can reduce stress levels and increase serotonin. A quick cuddle can help to calm stressful thoughts and will also benefit your beloved pet!

It’s important to remember that pet ownership is not for everyone and genuine considerations about suitability should be made before making any big commitments.

Pets can help ease some symptoms of mental health struggles, but are not a cure. If you or someone you know is struggling reach out to your GP or contact NHS 111 or 999 if you are in crisis. MIND mental health charity suggests the following helplines here: www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/helplines-listening-services/

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