Moosh - woman and dog on beach

You’ve probably heard about the many benefits of having an emotional support animal. An ESA can encourage you to be more social, get more exercise, and provide a loving presence in your household. The best ESA animals can even provide you with a reduction in your mental illness symptoms. But there’s one more thing that makes owning an ESA even more exciting – pets can actually help improve your overall health too! Here’s a look at the seven ways your emotional support animal can make you both healthier and happier.

  1. Improve sleep

The best emotional support animals can help you feel more comfortable. Their presence can be calming and can deter you from feeling lonely – which means that you might have an easier time falling and staying asleep at night. If you establish a nightly routine with your ESA, you’ll be able to follow a schedule for yourself as well. This structure can reduce feelings of anxiety at night. If you still experience tension or anxiety, an ESA can calm you down so that you’re not focused on what’s making you stressed. You’ll feel safer if your ESA is there to stand watch for any disturbances too. Better, more restful sleep can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life. You’ll feel more focused and able to take on challenges if you’ve gotten a full night’s sleep. Plus, your ESA is probably always down for a cuddle at night!

  1. Lower your risk of illness

Emotional support animals can help you fight off loneliness. Recent studies have shown that pets can decrease stress hormones and inflammation (which usually increase with loneliness). When these hormones are elevated, they can end up putting you at risk for conditions like cardiac issues, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. By keeping your ESA constantly at your side, it’s likely you won’t experience those same intense feelings of isolation. Therefore, the close companionship you have with your ESA could mean you can stave off some pretty terrible diseases.

Moosh - poodle

There are so many health and lifestyle benefits to having an emotional support animal.

  1. Reduce your stress levels

As indicated above, owning a pet can reduce the levels of your stress-related hormones, like cortisol. The best emotional support animals will help you feel a decrease in your stress levels. A person can start to feel the positive effects of playing with a dog or cat in as little as 5–24 minutes. Additionally, research has demonstrated that petting or playing with your ESA can release oxytocin (also known as the “cuddle chemical” or “love hormone”). This hormone actually results in you feeling happier and more trusting. A reduction in stress levels can be essential for folks suffering from anxiety, PTSD, depression, and other conditions.

  1. Can help lower your blood pressure

Constantly worried about your blood pressure? Pets can help lower it, as well as decrease your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. With a reduction in these factors, you’re less likely to go through a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. Even if one of these issues occurs, recent studies have shown that survival rates of patients are higher if they have a pet at home to help them during the recovery process.

  1. Improve fitness

If you’re looking for a way to step up your fitness game, or just to get a little more physically active, owning an ESA can definitely help. Having a dog can encourage you to take them for daily walks, run around with them at the dog park, or just chase them around the house. These types of activities can help you become more physically active overall. There are also some studies that show that adults who walked their dogs regularly had lower body mass indexes and fewer doctor visits.

Moosh - puppy with owner

Improving your fitness is just one of the positive effects an ESA can have on your health.

  1. Lower pain levels

Many people who own emotional support animals experience chronic pain or have some type of recurring pain from injury or illness. Recent research has indicated that patients actually experienced lower pain levels and had more satisfaction with their recovery process while they were in the hospital if they could interact with animals. This correlates with the idea that pets can help minimize pain in a home setting as well. Less pain means that people can recover faster and might experience less emotional distress while they’re trying to get better. They might even find a decrease in their depression or anxiety symptoms as well.

  1. Can lessen or alleviate symptoms of mental illness

Of course, the main reason people get an emotional support pet certification is because they’d like to see a reduction in their mental illness symptoms. Because disorders like anxiety and depression can lead to a lack of self-worth and lowered self-esteem, ESAs can often provide a person with some motivation to keep up the fight during the healing process. They can provide a set routine for someone who is struggling with completing daily activities, as well as give them a sense of security as a constant companion. Your ESA requires you to be responsible (they’ll need to be taken care of, obviously), but they’ll reward you with unconditional love and support.

One of the best benefits of owning an emotional support animal is that you’ll not only be taking a step towards caring for your mental health – you’ll also be promoting an increased focus on wellness as you improve your overall health!