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It was my birthday a few weeks ago and I have to say that one of the key highlights was the card my partner, Liam painted for me of our delightful cat Poppy sitting in my “shrink chair” as Liam calls it. Poppy, our adorable Celia Hammond rescue cat, from East London is now approaching the dear old age of 12 bless her and has given us both years of pleasure. She is such a Jekyll and Hyde character too: elegant, a Hyacinth Bucket type princess during the daytime and a pub hard case after 8pm.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Guess what my daily CBT mood diary revealed from a few years ago too? That one of my most enjoyable daily activities was arriving home from work to be greeted by Poppy and subsequently snuggling up on the sofa together.

Cats, Pets and Research

This then led me to question, with my shrink hat on, why is spending time in Poppy’s company so uplifting no matter how hectic and stressful my day has been.

One of the reasons why most pets are therapeutic is because they fulfill the basic human need to touch. People need touch to survive as well. Children who are touch-deprived don’t grow emotionally, physically and cognitively. Director of The Touch Research Institute, Dr Tiffany Field, cites a television show on Romanian orphans who are stick thin and unable to walk until aided by massage therapy and proper nutrition. Dr Field comments, “A child’s first emotional bonds are built from physical contact, laying the foundation for further emotional and intellectual development.”

Even hardened criminals in prison have shown long-term changes in their behavior after interacting with pets, Stroking, holding, cuddling, or otherwise touching a loving animal can often quickly calm and soothe us when we are feeling stressed. Pet companionship can also help overcome loneliness.

According to the American Heart Association, the ownership of pets has reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity. There is also research indicating that playing with or snuggling up to these delightful furry friends has several physical and mental health benefits. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.

Studies have also found that:

• Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
• People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.
• Playing with a pet can heighten levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
• Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.

In other words, like counselling, therapy and mindfulness, pets, though to a lesser degree, can also help us to self-regulate. Having said that, pets are a huge commitment and so are not for everyone. If you are one of those people who either dislike or have no desire to own a pet, then perhaps you may want to consider other ways of self regulating, reducing stress and blood pressure levels such as counselling and mindfulness.

Over to you

If after reading this blog you realise that stroking your cat or pet is not enough to help you overcome low moods, anxiety, stress and feeling overwhelmed with distractions and negative thoughts you are not alone in this very common dilemma. So don’t panic or give up just yet.

On line coaching, counselling or a personal development or mindfulness course can help you. So, if you need a bit of extra support and encouragement and a few on line coaching or counselling sessions why not contact us at You Revolution to arrange an appointment with one of our highly skilled Therapists and Coaches for a short free introductory chat on 07950 751352 or by emailing us on info@www.you-revolution.com.

What’s more as it’s June and you are probably more broke than usual needing to pay off your July tax bill, a ticket for a summer festival or a family holiday, we are offering reduced counselling and coaching rates for a limited period only!!!

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