Embracing Tranquility: Unleashing the Therapeutic Potential of Emotional Support Animal Companionship
Animals do not only offer companionship and joy. They are also known for providing emotional support to individuals with mental health conditions. If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with issues like depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and others, getting an emotional support animal can be of great benefit in their treatment journey. These animal companions help soothe the symptoms.
If you have anxiety disorders, an ESA for anxiety can help alleviate symptoms like irritability, excessive worry and restlessness. Dogs and cats happen to be the most preferred ESAs; however, you can get yourself a rabbit, monkey or miniature horse. Living with an ESA requires you to have a letter from a licensed mental health provider showing that, indeed, you have a mental condition and the ESA is part of your treatment plan. In this article, we delve into the therapeutic potential you can get while living with an ESA.
Some countries have put legal protection measures in place for emotional support animals. With the legal protection, you are allowed to live with your ESA even in places that would otherwise not allow pets. You are also protected by the law from discrimination when using some form of transportation. You get to keep your ESA close to you so that you can improve the quality of your life.
Emotional support animals have the potential to lower your blood pressure by reducing your stress levels. As you spend quality time with them, ESAs have a way of providing a calming effect and altering your body’s physiological response to stress. Interaction with an ESA lowers the levels of cortisol hormone produced. Cortisol is a stress hormone that your body produces whenever you are stressed.
With lower levels of cortisol, you can achieve improved mental health. Whenever you are in the presence of your emotional support animal, you have less anxiety. Petting and cuddling are great contributors to that effect. They have the potential to trigger the release of endorphins – your body’s natural mood elevators. Another important way in which an ESA can help you is through distracting your mind from stressors. They can detect when your mood changes, so they get playful with you to keep you off the stress.
Routine and Responsibility
Living with an emotional support animal requires you to be responsible for their well-being. You have to feed them, bathe them and ensure they have access to clean water. You must create a schedule that includes time for grooming them, exercising and feeding them. That routine will give you structure and stability. It can work well, more so for individuals with mood disorders and depression. These activities are also a form of distraction and can elevate your mood.
You also get a sense of responsibility since you know very well that the pet entirely depends on you. You also know that when they are okay, your mental well-being is guaranteed. That alone is enough motivation for you to get out of bed early in the morning and discharge those duties.
It is easy for an emotionally disabled individual to suffer from loneliness and isolation due to a lack of frequent social interactions. Some of these individuals struggle with autism spectrum disorders or social anxiety, where they find it hard to stay around people or have conversations with them.
When taking your pet outside for a walk, you will notice that it is easy for people to come and say hello. Some of them will even ask you questions, which will encourage you to have a conversation with them. You can also interact with your neighbours, who are also pet owners, during random walks with your dog. When having a conversation with people who have a common interest, you develop a sense of belonging and can also develop lasting friendships.
Sometimes, you will have the opportunity to participate in structured social activities like dog therapy sessions, training classes for dogs and visiting dog parks. Emotional support animals can also help reduce social anxiety. You can rely on your furry friend as your source of comfort if you get intimidated or anxious while interacting with people.
Distraction From Negative Thoughts
ESAs are powerful when it comes to distracting individuals dealing with mental health conditions from negative thoughts. First, living with these pets is a commitment to being responsible for their well-being in terms of grooming and feeding. When you are taking care of them, you need to be present and pay attention to tasks such as bathing them. That helps redirect your focus from negativity and intrusive thinking patterns.
Also, engaging in physical activities like walking, playing, and grooming gives you a physical outlet. It is a way of reducing negative thoughts as it keeps you distracted and grounded in the present. Mental health challenges also come with a lot of self-criticism and the feeling of worthlessness. When emotional support offers you companionship, you get unconditional love. ESAs are non-judgmental. They love you the same way regardless of what you do. Knowing that helps you feel safe and loved.