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Monday 20 November 2017

Pets have a part to play in our wellbeing

By Calodagh McCumiskey - Wellbeing & Meditation

Pets are great companions and always bring us into the moment.
Pets are great companions and always bring us into the moment.

Pets have a very powerful part to play in our wellbeing. They are great companions and always bring us into the moment.

I have been feeling this, particularly in the last week as our dearly beloved cat Kerry passed last Monday. He was a wonderful cat, friend and companion-always playful, friendly, caring and eager to meet anyone that came to the house. He was always himself and made the best of every moment. Pets bring you into the moment. They pass no judgement and shine brightly with everyone as long as they like you. They are always honest.

His passing has brought powerful understanding and connection with so many people that I don't even know that well. As I shared with others that he was sick and after he passed, I saw a light of understanding come into their faces as they shared precious moments of pets they had loved and lost or that they cherish and love every day.

I recently did an exercise with a meditation group where I asked people to write down the five most important things in their lives. In one group, 10 out of 12 had pets in their top five. It was second only to family in frequency.

Research shows that having pets has so many benefits to people and families and greatly enhances our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Dogs are great personal trainers and help us lose or at a minimum maintain weight. They get us out of the house which gives an extra dose of Vitamin D and strengthens our ability to overcome physical and mental illness, including depression, cancer and obesity. Being in nature further relaxes us. Children exposed to animals in early life develop stronger immune systems and are up to 33 percent less likely to develop related allergies.

Other studies show that pet owners have reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels reducing the risk for heart attacks. Our furry friends also improve recovery rates after illness as they help reduce and regulate stress levels.

They offer unconditional love and companionship and give a sense of purpose to those looking after them.

They are great listeners. They help us overcome loneliness. They make us feel good bringing on feelings of connection, joy and happiness. Pet owners have better circulation. When we are feeling low, animals always come to our support. They cuddle and connect with us and motivate us to engage with them and life. They get us to smile again. It has long been recognised that stroking an animal reduces stress.

When you connect with your pet, oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief, is released, reducing blood pressure and lowering cortisol.

Pets distract you from problems for just enough time to clear your head and free you from stress. They bring you into the moment in the most beautiful way. They are always happy to see you and make you smile. Fun interaction with your pet raises your serotonin and dopamine levels, which are nerve transmitters that bring calm and happiness.

If you have a regular life style that means you can look after one, I highly recommend having a pet. They are great companions for the sick and fully able bodied people and for all ages and stages of life. Their love and friendship is pure and unconditional. They are also great teachers and have a resilience that we can learn from. They always make the best of every moment.

If you are lucky enough to have a pet, look after them and appreciate and celebrate what they are bringing to your life today and every day.

Wexford People

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