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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...

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23 July 2015

Stress Down (with a dog!) Day for Lifeline 2015


90% of Australians report they need to stress less. That's an alarming statistic! Lifeline Australia set up Stress Down Day this July 24 to help people find ways to reduce the stress in their life.

Rudy and my friend Jenny, to all appearances, sharing a laugh

I have been helping share info about the benefits pets can offer our mental and physical health by speaking with some media ahead of Stress Down Day this week. 




Findings from a growing body of research show that when our animal companions fit our lifestyle, and meet our needs, we can enjoy:
  • increased self esteem
  • decreased loneliness
  • increased happiness
  • better able to cope with social rejection compared to non-pet owners
  • more physically active
This meaningful social support we get from our animal companions can vary between animals and also between people (ie.I don't feel the way about your cat that I feel about my dog, and how I feel about my cat might be different again), but when things are optimal, the attachment and benefits to people can be as significant for us as a best friend or close family member. That's AMAZING!

I decided to take Rudy for a special walk along the river this morning to actively take time out to stress down - partly because it's Stress Down Day today and partly because I would have anyway. It was a quiet morning, we only saw one other person. We saw loads of birds, a small mob of kangaroos, and we stopped several times just to watch the river and share the moment. I spent a lot of the walk thinking about a family member who left us earlier this year, in the saddest of circumstances. I felt sad. 

Then, my 11 month old puppy would go full goose, zooming around the shallow waters and button grasses and despite the significance of the loss I feel, I laughed at him. 
It felt good. 

We both enjoyed the walk. I returned home feeling more relaxed. Rudy's currently asleep next to me, so I reckon he did too.

I hope you find a way to stress less today too. We'd love to hear about how the animals in your life help - feel free to comment below. If you'd like to share some of my walk - it went a bit like this:


If you know someone (maybe you!) thinking of getting an animal companion for the first time, be sure to encourage them to do their research properly. Find an animal that will fit their lifestyle and meet their needs, so they too can reap the benefits of a positive relationship. Once you know what you're looking for, consider offering a home to an animal currently in a pound, shelter or rescue group. PetRescue are a wonderful hub resource for Australians, listing animals from many shelters and rescue groups nationally.

If you'd like to support the excellent work that Lifeline do, you can donate here

If you or someone you know is depressed, anxious, or may be at risk of suicide, you can get help and support.
Australia:  
Lifeline 13 11 14  beyondblue 1300 22 46 36
USA: Contact USA       
Elsewhere

Take care of yourselves,
Mia

Further reading:
McConnell, AR, Brown, CM, Shoda, TM, Stayton, LE, Martin, CE. (2011) ‘Friends with benefits: on the positive consequences of pet ownership’, Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, vol.101, no.6, pp.1239-1252

Anderson, K. A., Lord, L. K., Hill, L. N., & McCune, S. (2015) Fostering the Human-Animal Bond for Older Adults: Challenges and Opportunities. Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 39(1), 32-42.
Cobb Hecht
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