When you think of ways to reduce stress, you may conjure up images of a nice hot bubble bath, a relaxing swing in a hammock or maybe even a yoga session. While these are all excellent ways to relax and reduce tension, research shows that owning or even spending time around a dog may have similar effects. In fact, a new study shows that spending time around furry friends can result in both physical as well as emotional benefits, including social support and stress reduction.
Dogs at Work
Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University conducted a study to determine if employees exposed to dogs in the workplace received benefit from the dog’s presence. The study looked at a manufacturing business who allowed employees to bring their dogs to work with them. During the early hours of the day, there was no real difference between employees who brought their dogs to work and those without dogs. However, as the day progressed, the stress levels of those without dogs rose substantially higher than those who had their dogs present. There was also a marked difference in stress the days that workers left their dogs at home compared to the days that they tagged along.
Researchers concluded that having dogs in the workplace is great for stress reduction but may also increase performance and employee morale. Just taking a few minutes to stroke or talk to dogs seems to be all it takes to keep stress levels at bay in the workplace.
Therapeutic Value of Animals
The use of dogs, cats and horses in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes is nothing new. Therapy programs with animals in the center have proven to help not only reduce the emotional stress of being ill or confined but also speed physical recovery in patients. Nursing home residents who are frequently exposed to animals including dogs, cats, birds and even fish seem to be respond positively.
Therapeutic riding programs have gained considerable recognition for their ability to foster feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction amongst riders who may be struggling physically, emotionally or both. There just seems to be something about the animal and human connection that is healing. Children who have been sick their whole life, perhaps have not spoken or even responded to conventional treatment, come to life around animals. It is as if the animals understand the children’s pain and suffering and somehow want to help make it better.
While dogs, cats or horses may not be for everyone, the benefit of their presence is undeniable. Researchers say that it is the unconditional love that animals show humans that is the catalyst for health and healing.
– The Alternative Daily