Even in the best of circumstances, lockdown can cause elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Feeling as though your whole life has been essentially put on hold can take a toll on anyone. For those who suffer from anxiety and depression, that heightened stress can have a huge negative impact.
One thing that can be a great help for those stuck inside during a lockdown is an emotional support animal. Pets have been used to help alleviate mental health stress or decline by millions of people across the country; their presence can help lower stress levels and promote mental calmness. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of ESAs and determine the emotional support animals that are perfect for patients suffering mental stress during lockdown.
Benefits of emotional support animals during lockdown
The pandemic has been tough on people across the globe. The length of the lockdown you experienced doesn’t change the negative effects the overall stress can add to your mental health. Having your emotional support animal by your side while you ride it out can bring you elevated levels of peace and calmness, as well as companionship in a time where visiting friends and family is no longer a safe option.
Studies have shown that it’s not just having your furry friends around that leads to a better level of coping. Interacting with your ESA releases biochemicals that can also boost your immune system, thus making you less susceptible to a serious case of COVID-19 if you do happen to come down with the virus.
Other benefits of having an emotional support animal during lockdown include:
Being able to go for a walk with your ESA or play with them during the extended time you’re spending in your home will give you a much-needed distraction from the outside world and its problems.
Reduction of cortisol and increase in happy chemicals
The chemicals that get released during the time you spend with your ESA can enhance your body’s ability to deal with stress; lower stress levels altogether; and aid in the production of oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins.
All over health benefits
Recent studies have found that people with emotional support animals visited the doctor’s office less frequently than those who didn’t. Being around your ESA could help lower heart rate and blood pressure, improve overall mood, reduce levels of fatigue that could be caused by stress, and keep motivation at a higher level.
Best support animals for anxiety and depression
Almost every type of domestic animal could be considered an ESA. Anything from mice, rats, ferrets, and guinea pigs to horses could be deemed beneficial for those suffering from depression and anxiety worsened by lockdown measures. Not all ESAs are equal, though, and some may be better than others when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 lockdown.
It’s important to remember that some animals come with their own set of restrictions. For example, a horse could be a great ESA, but if you’re locked down to your one-bedroom apartment, that isn’t isn’t a feasible option. Mice and rats could also pose issues if you want to get outdoors with your ESA.
If you’re in need of some ideas, some of the best domestic animals for emotional support of depression and anxiety include:
Dogs can provide a lot of emotional support if you have anxiety or depression. They are the most commonly used animals for support of a mental illness and most breeds tend to do well as ESAs. Dogs have a heightened ability to understand and communicate with humans, thus making them a first-rate choice as an ESA.
Second to dogs, cats are also very popular among those who require an emotional support animal, especially if you can’t have a dog or are more of a “cat person”. They can be of great benefit for those who live in small spaces and are looking for an animal that doesn’t require a lot of extra attention.
Rabbits are also great for those who live in small spaces. Aside from that, they are quiet and shy animals, so those with anxiety triggered by boisterous pets could benefit from having a quiet companion.
Birds are the only type of emotional support animal that can replicate human speech, and this could be particularly great for someone who lives alone during lockdown. Having a clever bird to interact with will give you a sense of relief when socialization is off the table.
For those seeking an inexpensive yet affectionate emotional support animal, hamsters may be the best option. They are generally low-maintenance, but can still provide the emotional support needed to get through lockdown due to their calm and caring nature.
How to stay mentally healthy during COVID-19
Besides getting an emotional support animal, there are many ways to help you stay mentally healthy during COVID-19. Getting the right nutrition will keep your immune system running at its best, which will give you peace of mind as you aim to avoid the virus. Exercising in a safe and socially distanced way will also boost levels of those happy chemicals that can help you manage your anxiety and depression the natural way.
Keeping your mind busy with things you like to do, hobbies you may have put aside due to other obligations, and learning new skills from home can also be of great benefit during a COVID lockdown. Emotional support animals will always be a great option for those suffering from mental stress, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have never been more important.