Self-quarantine and isolation are protective measures initiated to decrease the impact of the novel Coronavirus. In response to the pandemic, most people are practicing social distancing and it is critical to slow the spread of the virus. However, isolation and self-quarantine can harm the health of an individual. In the wake of mental health wellness during quarantine, a biological anthropologist and comparative psychologist from the University of Arizona says that dogs can provide emotional support during these crucial times. Particularly to those who suffer from depression, anxiety, or PTSD. In fact, most Americans with such problems have certified emotional support animals who are protected by emotional support animal laws.
Even before the pandemic, a study was published showing that most Americans suffer from poor social health. In fact, the study went on to say that three out of four people experience episodes of depression and high levels of loneliness. Unfortunately, an estimated 17.3 million people, according to the latest research, suffer from at least one major episode of depression. The research has also shown that individuals who feel alone and disconnected from the world are more likely to catch diseases such as cold and have lower cognitive functions. This is why it is vital to take care of one’s mental health while self-quarantine and isolation.
What Does the Existing Research Say?
Many experts believe that dogs can help ease the negative emotions and their company can reduce the impact of anxiety and depression. The Director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center in his research showed that the dog’s company can ease mental health problems. As people limit social interactions, a dog’s company can come in handy and provide relief from the current situation. In fact, some studies went on to say that dogs have a powerful impact on humans and they can understand human emotions. This could be an effective strategy to help people cope up with loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
How Can Dogs Provide Relief from Mental Health Issues?
There are a good number of studies that suggest dogs can provide relief from mental health issues. Not only this but most experts believe that dogs have a stress-buffering effect on the self-confidence of an individual. The positive impact that dogs have on our lives is measured not in terms of what people perceive, but in terms of psychological impact. In studies conducted throughout the years, it has been noted that the impact of dogs on human lives is measured through biological factors such as heart rate, cortisol, and blood pressure.
Cortisol is a hormone responsible for how the human body responds to stress. Part of the effect is very similar to how we respond to stress when we are around family members and our loved ones. Our family members, friends, and relatives can help us through tough times. A similar situation can be applied to dogs. They provide human beings with the same social support. All in all, these studies imply that dogs can act as supportive figures in the need of the hour.
Can Dogs Perceive Human Emotions?
According to various experts, this is the most researched topic and the research papers come out with a lot of concrete knowledge. However, we are still not aware of how dogs tune in to human emotions. We are only aware of the fact that dogs can connect with humans and then react accordingly. The topic is indeed debatable, perhaps the discussion boils down to an unspeakable connection dogs share with humans. In addition to this, we also know that dogs are highly social animals. They have stayed with humans for ages and that makes the case of human and dog relationships even more likely. Perhaps the reason why most Americans incline towards emotional support animal’s assistance and why dogs understand human emotions.
Dogs can synchronize their stress level with ours
A 2019 study revealed that dogs can feel human stress. The stress can cause the dogs to synchronize with human emotions. And at a time like this when most people are suffering from stressful situations, it becomes even more likely that dogs will synchronize with human stress. This, in turn, is an unfortunate situation for both the dog and the dog owner.
So, dog owners have to ensure that they keep their furry friends from undue stress. To do the same you can take little breaks from a hectic schedule and spend time with your dog. Particularly for people working from home. They can take breaks in between and sit down with their furry little friend and pet them with love and care. This mechanism will help dogs reciprocate love positively. In fact, if you practice the same for a few days you will notice the change in your mental health. The synchronization will help you and your dog strengthen your bond and both of you will feel relaxed.
Can dogs cause the coronavirus?
Many viral tweets and jokes were circulating on social media channels. The jokes and fake news pertained to dogs causing coronavirus. However, there is no concrete proof regarding dogs causing the coronavirus. And scientists are yet to figure out whether or not dogs are conspiratorial species. So, it is safe to say that dogs cannot cause coronavirus and abandoning them in these crucial times is an extremely inhumane act.
On the contrary, your dog can help you cope up with the added stress. Now that we are aware of the fact that dogs can ease the levels of stress and anxiety during these crucial times. Let’s see how you can help your dogs keep up with the quarantine period. Also, if you have an emotional support animal and you are privileged to the few emotional support animal laws that come along with it, this time might be the right for you to show some love to your emotional support animals.
Walking your dogs can serve as a coping mechanism
In a situation like this, walking your dog might come as a blessing. Particularly for those who are suffering from mental health issues. Besides, one thing we all need to keep in mind is that sitting around and worrying about things that are not in our control can worsen our mental health. So, in order to cope with the current mechanism, you need to refocus on your positive energy. You can play with your pup, go for a brisk walk. Although taking a walk outside has to be done keeping in mind all the safety precautions.
For instance, you can walk in the backyard of your house. Even if you want to take your dog out, make sure you are at 3ft distance from other people out for a walk. Avoid parks where the risk of disease transmission is high. Also, wear gloves and discard them as soon as you and your dog come back from the walk. Most vitally don’t forget to wash your hands before doing anything else in the house.
All in all, focus on your mental health while you and your dog are under isolation. Some brisk walks and playing activities with your dog will not only improve your mental health but these small exercises are also a great way to reduce anxiety and depression. Stick with a scenic walk and stay positive all the time.