10 benefits of being a dog owner

Owning a pet has become commonplace for many cultures, which is understandable as they offer companionship and unconditional love, especially for the elderly and the blind. But dogs offer more than that. Surely you would have noticed how your furry companion is not just a pet, but rather part of the family. Although they cannot talk, give you advice, and all the other perks that come with human interaction, they can still be your best friend.

Sure, they can be expensive and even a nuisance at times (chewing up the furniture, weeing on the bed, to name a few) but they can also bring so many benefits to your life.

1. You will feel less stressed

There have been studies to suggest that dogs decrease stress levels. That means petting you dog, playing with your dog, and just being around your furry friend can improve your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

2. You will feel safe

Dogs can be an expensive but highly trustworthy burglar alarm. Thanks to your dog’s great sense of hearing and loud barking to alert you of a possible intruder, you can sleep better at night, which will do wonders to your physical and mental health.

3. You will get sick less often

Having a dog in the house means more germs. Fact. Yet the more you are exposed to these germs and bacteria, it can help build up your immunity to disease. In turn, people with dogs are less likely to get sick than non-dog owners.

4. You will feel happier

Not only can dogs help with your physical health, but they can make a huge difference to your mental health too. Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression. That’s because having a dog to take care of enforces a routine that can help them out of a depressive episode. The interaction and mutual love from a dog can help people stay positive and focused, and may even be a great alternative to medication.

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5. Your kids are less likely to have allergies

Children who grow up in a house with a dog have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema. Also, kids who are raised around a dog, will have higher levels of immune system supporters to keep them in good shape as they get older.

6. You’ll have better heart health

Did you know that petting a dog lowers your heart rate and blood pressure? Studies show that pet owners have lower cholesterol and are therefore more likely to survive a heart attack. Other studies show that those who own a dog have less restless nights and are sick less often.

7. You will get more exercise

When it comes to exercise, there’s no excuse. There’s even less excuse when you’re a dog owner – you have to exercise daily. Most dog owners will walk for a minimum of 30 minutes everyday, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and greatly improving your overall health.

8. You have a better social life

You’re more likely to be approached when taking a dog for a walk than if you were to go alone. In fact, polls show that people trust dog owners and will feel more inclined to go up and talk to them.

9. You may detect cancer sooner

Your dog could possibly play a role in saving your life one day. It appears that due to their amazing sense of smell, dogs have the ability to detect cancer sooner than a human would. There have been stories from many dog owners of their dog sniffing or licking a mole or lump on their body and after getting it checked out, turned out to be cancerous.

10. You become a better person

Having a dog teaches us a lot about ourselves and can ultimately shape who we are. We have to learn to be patient, selfless and committed. Dogs can be hard work sometimes, but they are the best teachers and the best friends you can have.

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How to manage your anxiety

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First of all, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I do suffer from anxiety, as do millions of people all over the world. We’re all in the same boat so none of us should feel ashamed as we’ve all experienced it at some time in our lives. But some of us struggle with anxiety more than others. Only a couple of years ago I couldn’t even pay for something in a shop without feeling extremely anxious, and I know that some people would find that ridiculous ― why would someone get nervous over something so simple? For many people, going to the shops, being in a crowded environment and talking to new people is a difficult thing to do. There isn’t a cure for anxiety yet (don’t worry, I’ll let you know when there is one) but there are some things that you can be doing to help manage your anxiety.

My best advice is to take it one step at a time. Start off with the smaller challenges and work your way up, this way you won’t end up completely overwhelmed and it reduces the chances of experiencing panic attacks. I think what I’m trying to say here is: know your limits. Know what you can do, and what you can’t do. More importantly, just because you’re not capable of doing something right now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to do it. Set yourself a goal and work towards it. You’ll get there.

Secondly, it might be a good idea to reward yourself after you’ve achieved something. If you went up and ordered something in a café or you bought something in a shop, and this is something which you usually struggle with, then you should be proud of yourself. Why not treat yourself to a bit of chocolate or a slice of cake? Another lipstick? A new car? (Probably a bit too far at this stage). Write a list and start ticking things off. You’ll feel good looking back at how far you’ve come.

Another proven method to manage your anxiety is meditation. I cannot recommend this highly enough. I’ve recently just started this and already I feel so much calmer. On YouTube, you can find quite a few tutorials on meditating for beginners which I’m sure will be a lot of help. Some people like to listen to music while doing this, (I don’t mean Eminem or Dubstep) I prefer wave music but it’s entirely up to you. Whatever floats your boat – see what I did there? I was just talking about waves and now a boat . . . OK, I’ll leave now.

Lastly, just make sure that you’re exercising regularly, eating healthy and keeping hydrated! All three contribute largely to your overall mood and will affect how you are feeling throughout the day, so make sure you don’t start getting lazy (I know, it’s a bit rich coming from me) and forget to stick to your dieting and lifestyle, as this will only worsen your anxiety. The last thing you want is to take five steps backwards.

Keep going, you’re doing well!

 

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