Self-care is a broad topic that encompasses the physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual state of a person. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, people have been eager to make changes that could improve their overall well-being as a means to cope with the new normal, but specifically their mental health. It wouldn’t be unusual if 2021 finds you with a new diet, a better exercise regimen, a daring haircut, and an elaborate nighttime routine. If you’ve ticked off these items and are still looking to try new things, perhaps you should consider spending more time with animals.
It’s a challenging thing to do, especially if you’ve never been fond of them in the first place. Research after research has shown, however, that bonding with animals offers a myriad of mental health benefits that warrant your serious attention.
What You Can Look Forward To
It’s no accident that more people have pets in their homes since the pandemic started. They’re not limited to dogs and cats, too. There is a surge of families and individuals bringing home aquariums, birds, and hamsters, among others.
In general, this could be attributed to the deeper need for companionship during quarantine and social distancing. Dogs are known to motivate people to exercise, which then pulls them out of their sedentary lifestyles. Cats, too, require play and attention, and they reward you with sweet gestures you can’t ignore. Even a pet fish can provide the feeling that you are needed and, therefore, important. Their overall reliance on you for their survival urges you to be more responsible, aware, and grounded in the present to meet their needs.
Furthermore, they give your days more structure. Animals operate like clockwork, meaning that they expect activities to be done at the same time daily. This will reinforce your routine and give you a sense of purpose even when you haven’t accomplished much for the day.
Choosing the Right One
The degree to which a pet will benefit you depend mostly on acquiring the right one. So, how do you choose the pet that suits you best? Don’t decide just based on your gut feel. There are tons of considerations to make, including the size of your home, specifically your outdoor space. You should also be realistic about the activities you can perform, as this is crucial if you can get active pets like dogs.
Do you have sufficient time in your day to feed, groom, and play with them? There are low maintenance pets like cats, turtles, butterflies, and hamsters for those who are regularly preoccupied with their work and other obligations. You should research your options well and refrain from overestimating your capacity to care for these animals, as their lives are in your hands the moment you decide to take them home.
Finally, do you have the money to splurge on their veterinary visits, food, water, toys, and accessories? Perhaps you live in the countryside, and you decide to get a horse. You need to research whether the budget you have in mind suffices for hay, mineral supplements, dentistry, and core vaccinations. There are also supplies like horse reins, saddle pads, boots, and similar equipment. If you’re up for the financial challenge they bring, then you may be rewarded with a companionship that will give you more than you expect.
If You Can’t Bring Home A Pet
There are many reasons you may not be able to bring home a pet. Apart from possible financial issues, you could be living in a neighborhood or apartment complex that doesn’t favor animals. In this case, you can look for alternatives like dog-sitting and volunteering for shelters. Feed stray cats in your neighborhood and visit farms.
You’ll find many organizations looking for people to play with pets, walk their dogs, or help out in rescuing abused animals. Rescue centers are often in need of people who can go to their facilities so that the animals can be socialized and treated for their trauma.
If foster caring is within your capacity, connect with people and groups who can teach you how to get started. Since the animal won’t be with you long-term, it may be easier to persuade your landlord to give their permission.
Gearing Up for Ownership
Allot time to prepare for possible pet ownership. There are equipment and supplies you need to purchase before bringing home a cat, dog, and other types of animals, as it can pose a lot of inconveniences when you do so unprepared.
Finally, talk to other owners so that you have the right expectations. Caring for any animal is not always fun, as it’s a serious responsibility that involves training, grooming, and other tedious work. The good news is that when you get the hang of it, you’ll better appreciate the mental health benefits they bring.