I truly believe that Pets and mental Wellness go together like Cheese and biscuits, for those who enjoy having animals in the home.
It turns out that not only can pets steal our hearts, but they also contribute to overall cardiovascular health by lowering cortisol, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. Excerpt taken from https://nationaltoday.com/national-pet-day/
Previous to working for Designs in Mind, I worked for the NHS Recovery College, as a Lived Experience Peer Tutor, during this role, alongside a colleague we wrote up a Benefits of Pets course to present to Adults with Mental Health challenges.
It was so successful in the fact that everyone who attended, lit up with joy every time they shared how much of a benefit to their whole state of being, their pet was. How having a companion at home made life more fun and during difficult times, more bearable.
The main thread was that pets helped calm stress and other feelings that emerge, that cats and dogs were always aware of what their human companion was feeling and in general pets of all kinds made life have more meaning and gave folk purpose.
On becoming a Member here at Designs in Mind I soon realised that the same thread of the benefits of pets, rings true here too, within our Members ‘ lives.
It’s often a commonplace that we ask about each other’s pets, so I simply couldn’t overlook National Pet Day which is on Tuesday 11th April, 2023.
This day was founded in 2006 by animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige as a way of encouraging adoption from animal shelters and rescues.
Here in our studio we also have several Therapy Pets, however, that’s for a whole other blog, for another time…. so watch this space.
To honour and celebrate our pets, I gleaned a few stories from members who chose to share about how much their pets help with their well-being and mental health challenges.
Here’s what they shared.
Kelly & Duffy’s Story
“Duffy is a 7-year-old female Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. She completed our little family. We all bonded with her and together she bonded us all in another way.
We got to enjoy being out and about with her. She brought a whole new dynamic to our daily life
Since becoming poorly she’s my daily companion. Some days I don’t have the energy to deal with other humans. She’s all I need when I need peace in my mind.
She doesn’t have a favourite family member but if she did I’m hoping it’s me!
Thank you Kelly I’m sure you are her favourite human!
Parsley is a “tuxedo” black and white cat, who means the absolute world to Nicky.
I spoke to Nicky at length about Parsley, who I’ve been fortunate enough to meet in the fur!
Nicky shared with me “Parsley is always there for me, he is like my Guardian Angel. At night time when I go to bed, he lies by my pillow before eventually settling down on his bed, at the end of mine. He has two beds, the one on my bed as well as an Armchair “Pet Boutique” by the bedroom door. He is so affectionate and I love him so much. It’s lovely when he lies on my knee or over my shoulder”
I asked how Parsley helps with challenges to mental health, and Nicky said…
“Parsley helps my well-being because when I’m out I think of him being there to welcome me home.
When I do arrive home he meows and purrs which calms me. His presence helps my mental health challenges as he makes me so happy. He has made such an enormous improvement to the way I feel”.
Thank you, Nicky, Parsley is such a little darling, I’m grateful to have met him.
Simba & Jasmin’s Story
I asked Jasmin to share a piece of writing with me about Simba, here’s what she wrote…
I have a Ginger cat called Simba, he’s my world.
He can make me smile on my worst days.
Simba gives me a reason to want to be alive. He stops me from feeling so lonely in an empty house. He cheers me up, calms my anxieties, and grounds me at night with his cuddles. He seems to sense when I need his cuddles most”.
Jasmin also shared a poem inspired by her Feline Companion.
You leave pawprints in my heart
Like drops of sunshine on the shadow canvas.
You make me smile behind the tears
And keep the demons within their cages.
A heartbroken beyond repair
Is taped together with your love.
The strand of life that is my reason.
I trust you with my secrets
You trust me with your care
Thank you, Jasmin, what a lovely poem to honour Simba.
Oscar & Willow’s Story
Knowing he is at home waiting for my return is a big thing for me and my well-being. He knows when I’m facing mental health challenges as he gets clingy and snuggles more. He looks into my eyes and his eyes speak volumes, saying everything will be OK Mummy.
Pets are often our babies as well as our companions, this is the case with Oscar, he helps me feel good about myself and gives me purpose every day.
I don’t know what I’d do without my Canine Companion and best friend, he is my life and I’m a survivor because of him
I recently published a poem via an online platform to honour what Oscar means to me. Here’s a link to “An Ode to my Canine Companion”
Perhaps you’ve got a pet who you cherish greatly and we’ve inspired you to write a poem about them.
Maybe you’re considering getting a pet, either way, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading how beneficial pets are.
Want to know more? This article has great info on pets and mental health, as well as sound advice about getting a pet and what options to consider if you can’t have a pet where you live.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to share this blog with your friends and families.
Blog Written & researched by Willow, Member & Social Media Coordinator