How Animals Help Us Manage Stress

Dr. Doni talks about “stress remedies” – activities that help us manage stress, and specifically the value of animals as healers.

pet therapy, animal assisted therapy, stress remedies, animals stress relief, petting animals stress relief, animals reducing stress, stress pet therapy, animal rescueThroughout this blog series I’ve talked about various types of stress and the ways in which it affects our health including adrenal distress, digestive imbalances, and turning on genetic predispositions. Once these disruptions set in, it is only a matter of time before symptoms begin to occur such as fatigue, pain, anxiety, heartburn, bloating, weight gain, PMS, elevated blood sugar levels, frequent or chronic infections, allergies, and insomnia. It can be a snowball effect; the more disruption you experience from stress, the more likely health issues are to develop. So, whether you’re experiencing mild or more severe symptoms, I encourage you to address not just the symptoms, but the overall effect of stress as well.

Help Your Body Recover, Even If You’re Stressed

Many patients ask me if they’ll be able to improve their health even though they have a stressful job or a busy schedule. While in some cases it is necessary to take some time off in order to give your body a chance to come back to an un-stressed state, it is possible to recover, little by little, while still living a relatively stress-filled life.

Today I want to explore a concept I refer to as “stress remedies.” These are activities that have been shown to help your body recover from stress. I wrote all about them and the research that supports the concept in my short ebook, Stress Remedies. At first, it may be hard to imagine these activities can make that much of a difference or how you can possibly find the time to incorporate them into your day, but I’m here to say they do make a difference – so it is worth making time in your schedule to implement them even and especially amidst a storm of stress. I know this not just based on the research, but from trying them out for myself, too.

I’m going to share information about various stress remedies over the coming weeks, starting today with animals. Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy as it is called in research, was first studied in the 1960s by Dr. Boris Levinson, a child psychologist who found that having his dog in sessions helped his patients. However, it is also said that Florence Nightingale and Sigmund Freud found much earlier that pets helped in their care of patients.

Animals Rescue Us

Research into pet therapy for both adults and children has surged in recent years and has found that animals help humans to decrease pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Studies of animals in nursing homes show a decrease in loneliness and having a pet is known to decrease heart disease risk, increase survival after a heart attack, and decrease the need for medical intervention after stressful life events. The evidence overall indicates that, just as animals respond to people’s attention, they equally have a calming influence on us that can help our healing. (Find references to studies below)

I grew up with pets – we always had a dog and a cat or two – and I found them to be essential to how I dealt with experiences of stress, which included frequent moves. As my father was promoted in the company he worked for, we moved to various towns in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and California. Having pets helped me through 10 moves by the time I graduated from high school.

Now this too, has unintentionally become part of my approach as our current cat, Jasmine, offers pet therapy to patients (she’s the one in the image above, by the way!). She was only content when she was allowed to stay in the office and we soon noticed that she seemed to get excited when patients came in. She would get up from her nap and go over to welcome people when they arrived. We started to realize that it was not just that she preferred humans but that people, including children, enjoyed having her as part of their care.

We Rescue Animals, Too

My daughter Ella and I became involved with animal rescue about 6 years ago when we moved to Long Island. As animal lovers we couldn’t help but notice the feral cats and kittens roaming the neighborhood and it didn’t take long for us to figure out that it was very difficult to find homes for them all – especially the black ones – and that the pet shelters in the area were all full.

pet therapy, animal assisted therapy, stress remedies, animals stress relief, petting animals stress relief, animals reducing stress, stress pet therapy, animal rescue

My daughter Ella with Kiwi, a rescue cat.

We learned how to use cat traps and planned out where we could take the cats we caught to be spayed or neutered. Then we hung fliers at local businesses to try and find them homes. We succeeded in finding homes for some, and released others after having them fixed. We continue to care for a number of cats we have rescued (some indoor and some outdoor). Of course, we provide grain-free food and use herbs and natural approaches for their health when they need it. Because the existing animal shelters were beyond capacity, we started our own. And my business contributes to their care.

Ella and I can’t imagine life without animals. In addition to Jasmine and the rescued cats, we have a dog, a rabbit, and a snake. As the research indicates, they help us manage the daily stresses of life – and bring us a lot of joy.

Closing Thoughts

Now I don’t recommend that you take it as far as creating an animal shelter in your home. What I do suggest is that, as long as you are not allergic, you consider the benefits of having an animal in your life. If you are thinking of bringing a cat or other animal into your home, I would ask that you consider choosing an animal from a shelter.

To learn more about steps you can take to de-stress and live your passion, you may be interested in my short ebook, Stress Remedies, which is available at Amazon for 99 cents. All the proceeds from this book go to supporting the cats.

If you’d like help implementing diet, exercise, sleep, and stress strategies to benefit your health – based on over 16 years of experience and thousands of patients – you may want to check out the Stress Remedy Program I have developed, in 7- or 21-day options. I’m excited for you to experience the benefits of the Stress Remedy Program, which is the first and only program of its kind to address adrenal health, leaky gut, and blood sugar imbalances all at once.

And if you find that you need more one-on-one support, especially if you are experiencing a number of the symptoms I mentioned above, then I recommend you meet with a naturopathic doctor who can guide you. To learn more about the consultation options I offer, including a Wellness Package to help you with your health, please visit this page.

In my upcoming articles, I plan to explore more Stress Remedies, including meditation – I’m going to tell you all about a course I’m taking this fall – and exposure to nature. There is not one right activity for everyone, and yet by choosing to do some of these activities even just a little bit each day, you’ll be doing a good thing for your health for now and into the future. To be sure and receive my next articles, you can sign up for my weekly e-newsletter here.

And, I’m curious to hear your stories about how your pets have helped you through stressful times. Please use the comments box below.

Dr Doni
13th September 2016


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