Could Getting a Dog Help You Get Back to Work After Experiencing Anxiety?

Dogs can provide emotional support while away from home

Jane Fisher discusses the therapeutic benefits of the companionship of dogs.

In the United Kingdom, it was reported that 300,000 people who experience long-term mental health diagnoses lose their jobs every year. Often times, experiences such as hearing voices or having panic attacks make it impossible to return to work right away. Many individuals have looked to the therapeutic benefits of owning a dog when facing anxiety.

Being away from familiar situations can quickly provoke anxiety. Whether travelling for a new job, or simply going to the office, emotional support dogs can travel with you wherever you go. Those who have various mental health conditions can register their dog as an emotional support animal (ESA) with various organisations. While not officially recognised in the UK by the government, many workplaces, hotels, and retail establishments are now allowing dogs on to their properties for this purpose.

What makes a dog a good candidate for serving as an individual’s emotional support animal? Rather than going through formal training, an emotional support animal is simply one that brings comfort to the owner. This can be especially helpful for those with severe anxiety disorders who are returning to work after being away for a period of time.

Research shows that dogs have the ability to reduce anxiety and stress

Even if you won’t be bringing your pup to your new place of employment, dogs can boost your mental health any time you are near him or her. In fact, research has shown that caring for a dog can reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Why? Science shows that the simple act of playing with your dog elevates both serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These chemicals are responsible for calming the mind, balancing your mood, improving sleep quality, and creating feelings of happiness. Additionally, those who own a dog are significantly less likely to have depression and/or anxiety. Not only is it fun to interact with your pet, but the companionship provided can go a long way in reducing the symptoms of PTSD, bipolar disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, and other mental health conditions.

Walking your dog can also help reduce anxiety

Most dogs need to be walked at least once per day. Even if you walk your dog for just 30 minutes on a regular basis, you can expect to experience an overall improvement in anxiety symptoms. The movement, distractions, and breathing involved in walking have been proven to reduce the most common symptoms of stress and anxiety. To reap the biggest benefits from this activity, walk your new companion both before and after your work day.

Science has shown that owning a dog can be an exceptional complementary anxiety treatment when returning to the workplace.

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