We all know that excessive stress can lead to a student mindset to “go to the dogs” right before exams, but did you know: you can literally take your stress problems to the dogs.
All happy dog owners know that there’s something comforting about coming home to their furry friend every day after school, and having him jump all over you just because he’s excited you’re home. For countless people, the best medicine for the revival of a high-stress day is as simple as playing with their dog.
The evidence lies in the stress hormones that appear in saliva – having interaction with pets or even having the presence of one can significantly lower cortisol, a hormone associated with depression and anxiety. Alternatively, your pet’s presence can raise beneficial hormones like oxytocin, linked to happiness and relaxation. And not to give all the credit to just the four-legged furries – even gazing into a fish tank vs a blank wall for 30 minutes has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure.
Not only have there been studies on how having pets in the work place effects chemical stress levels, but more specifically, how people respond to stressful tasks in four different situations: alone, with their spouse, with their pet and their spouse, or just with their pet. When faced with a problem while alone with their pet, they experienced the lowest stress response and the quickest recovery.
So whoever said that “good friends are hard to find” probably never had a pet – remember to spend some time with yours tonight when you’re home studying for a stress-free night.
Tufts University uses therapy dogs to help students relieve stress: