This year has been pretty weird, yes? I know I’m not the only one who needs something to make it a smidgen better for all of us. So, surprise! Below you will see so many sweet little babies that you can look at all day long.
You know that gut feeling you get when you look at something cute, like animals? That is the Oxytocin coursing through your body. I call it my “Ovaries burning” haha!
I would like to talk a little bit about animals and what exactly they do for us, not just psychologically but to our brains physically. I know that some of you have heard of the word Oxytocin. For those of you who haven’t, oxytocin is a hormone that is secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland. It is called the “love hormone” because it is released during times where one should feel loved. Examples of these times would be during labor, breastfeeding, cuddling, sex, bonding, as well as touch, stroking, and warmth. An article from Frontiers in Psychology published in July 2012, “Oxytocin is produced by the hypothalamus and released into the circulatory system and the brain in response to sensory stimulation via a network of OT-containing nerves.” The same articles states that “Many physiological, psychological and behavioral functions are modulated via OT (oxytocin).” and “There is an increase in plasma OT, as well as prolactin, phenylacetic acid, and dopamine, in both, humans and dogs after 5 to 24 minutes of stroking a dog.” but studies showed that a human stroking their own dog resulted in a much stronger effect and shows that the increase in OT depends on the animal – human bond.
Interactions with pets positively affect the endocrine responses by changes in the level of cortisol. Cortisol (hydrocortisone) or a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal cortex that is used to help the body respond to stress. This is significantly decreased when in the presence of a friendly companion. In some studies, blood pressure was lowered just by petting an animal. Interacting with a friendly animal greatly lowered fear and anxiety.
According to one article I have found, the following are some positive effects on humans that have animal interactions:
- improvement of social attention, behavior, interpersonal interaction, and mood
- reduced stress related parameters such as, cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure
- reduction of self reported fear and anxiety
- improvement of mental and physical health, especially cardiovascular health
- improvement in immune system functioning
- increase in trustworthiness of and trust toward other humans
- reduced aggression
- enhances empathy and
- improved learning
I have read multiple studies in the past few days to get prepared for this post and all of them show the positive affects that pets have on humans psychologically. The interaction with animals does more for humans that others would think, it influences social behaviors. Examples of these are developments of trust, respect, positive mood, and empathy. Support dogs or emotional support dogs all have shown that their company promoted friendly social attention, smiles, and much more conversation. Aggressive behavior has been known to decrease when in the company of a support animal. It has also been known to reduce depressive symptoms and suicide with reducing the feeling of loneliness. Humans interacting with animals influences multiple interactions between other humans
This is my baby, Luka. I honestly never believed in therapy pets before I got her. So on top of my always creeping bipolar disorder, Covid-19 has made it’s way into our year. I am telling you, just looking at her makes me feel better. She always looks so happy and that always makes me happy!
Anyway, here is what you have come to see!
I am going to do pet therapy randomly throughout the life of the blog. Especially after some harder topics when we need a little more love. It is actually amazing what animals do for us. Even just to look at them. I really hope that this post helped you all feel a little better in this difficult time. Making you all feel better is my #1.
Love you all!
Bipolar Weirdo ❤
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. If you have mental health related questions, I highly recommend you seek a healthcare professional.