Animals have a powerful ability to bring about some of the most incredible emotions and experiences.
So incredible in fact that no other force on earth can match.
How do they do it? This is the most incredible part – by simply being themselves.
One of my very first blogs was a feature on how a group of comical skunks I work with brings about a unique sense of joy and happyness.
I explain upon how everytime i enter there enclosure, flashes of black and white frantically dart across my peripheral as they scramble desperately to seek out food. And I cant help but raise a huge smile as i watch, its just hilarious!
Check out that quirky blog through the link below.
This is just 1 minuite example of how an a animal can instantly make us feel better by just being themselves.
When we consider the amount of animals we have on the planet we are simply spoilt for choice.
They all bring about there own unique set of quirks and delights.
Here are 5 animals in particular who have been scientifically proven not just to make us smile but also alter our brain chemistry to bring some unbelievable psychological health benefits!
The Dog is the United Kingdoms most popular companion animal with a huge 24% of the population owning one.
Everyone knows that dogs bring us oodles of joy and can have us crying with laughter at there ridiculous antics.
However there are also some incredible psychological health benefits to owning a canine companion.
Studies have shown that owning a dog can be a catalyst for improving social skills, increasing confidence and even creating new friendships.
In fact pet owners are 60% more likely to get to know people in there neighboroughood just by owning a canine companion!
Regular walkies and trips out results in enviable encounters with fellow dog walkers which gets us talking and sharing common interests.
This can in turn improve confidence, social skills and help build friendships.
Owning a canine companion can also increase feelings of calm and relaxation.
When we cuddle and stroke our body’s release oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) which improves your bond with your furry friend.
Moreover cuddling also gives our serotonin levels a much needed boost. Its a very similar effect to reaching for that bar of chocolate when we feel low, except this option is much healthier!
Serotonin is powerful relaxant responsible for easing feelings of emotional distress, anxiety and depression.
The feline companion ranks at a close second with 17% of the UK population owning a cat.
When we think of cats we often jump to an image in our minds of an elderly lady perched on a chair carefully and cheerfully stroking her purring, fluffy companion.
Although cats are now very popular amongst all age groups the elderly in particular gain a sense of heightened companionship from cats compared to others.
This is because they have been proven to reduce feelings of loneliness and depression when compared to that of dogs.
In particular the unique behaviour of purring has been shown to radiate rays that have a calming meditative property much like attending a yoga class!
Dogs still have positive effects however when investigating cats and the elerdly the feline has more of an overall positive impact.
This is Pherhaps due to there calm demeanour and independent nature.
In addition cats also serve a great need for human touch which many elerdly individuals sadly no longer have.
Much like dogs, cats have also been found to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
A study by the Cats Protection agency in the UK surveyed 600 participants, half of whom struggled with their mental health.
The result was that 87% of cat owners found their cats to have a positive effect on their well-being. also, 76% reported cats made regular stressors easier to manage.
There is nothing a human being loves more than an animal that bares an uncanny resemblance to the human species.
Our attraction to human like animals or animals that possess human like traits is hardwired into us.
We feel happy and comfortable in the presence of something relatable and uncomfortable towards animals or objects that are a giant leap away in the gene pool e.g. spiders and bugs!
This is an evolutionary adaptation to aid our survival because we are ultimately more safe with familiarity.
When it comes to familiarly and animals primates are about as close as it gets to us which is why we are naturally so drawn to them.
This is exactly why when we visit the zoo we can spend hours staring in wonder and awe as they perform human like behaviours.
Observing such animals triggers the brains reward centre causing us to feel joyous and contented.
The fascination and humour that arises from observing human like traits in animals can also serve as a powerful and memorable distraction from emotions such as sadness and emotional distress.
Public aquariums worldwide welcome roughly 700 million visitors each year.
Moreover roughly 1 in 10 people in the United Kingdom posess there own aquarium.
Fish tanks are well renowned for calming and relaxing effects, which is why they can be seen as the main feature in doctors and dentist waiting areas.
When we observe the colourful aray of fish swimming majestically we cant help but be distracted and transported to our own little world.
But did you know that watching an aquatic display is so calming it has been scientifically proven to reduce our blood pressure!
Further studies on the subject have suggested this incredible calming effect has significantly helped elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease providing an improved mental state and more relaxed demeanour.
Furthermore, owning and maintaining an at home fish tank has been shown to ignite more creative and motivated behaviour.
Who knows where owning a aquarium will take you!
It seems companion animals generally provide similar positive mental health benefits such as distraction, relaxation, decreased stress, anxiety and depression.
However they also provide there own unique and fascinating benefits.
Dogs can improve social skills, increase confidence and have us rolling around with laugher until our stomachs hurt.
Cats purring creates rays similar to that of meditation waves meaning it sends us into a yoga like meditative state leading to great relaxation and decreased blood pressure!
Primates bring about a sense of fascination and wonderment with there incredible human like amities, which can serve as a powerful brain distraction.
Finally observing fish tanks or aquariums can increase productivity, creativity and can even provide a powerful relaxant for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
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