January 24, 2021

Pets help combat COVID-19 loneliness and stress

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By Lynn Allison From Newsmax

During the pandemic, people have been isolated and confined to their homes for weeks and months on end, with little or no human interaction and least of all, touch. According to a report sponsored by the AARP Foundation and the United Health Foundation, COVID-19 has spurred a rise in social isolation and loneliness reaching epidemic proportions. The report noted that two-thirds of U.S. adults are experiencing social isolation and 66% say that the pandemic has caused their anxiety level to increase.

 According to Forbes, pets can help address this issue, and provide both physical and mental comfort for those who are lonely. According to estimates, about 68% of U.S. households have at least one pet, and research shows that sharing your home with a four-legged companion can lower stress and anxiety, increase physical activity, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and increase happiness.

Janette Young, an expert in health sciences at the University of South Australia, says that the lack of touch during the pandemic has been detrimental to our emotional health. In her latest study, published in the Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, she says that the comfort that comes from touching and hugging a pet can help promote health and wellness during the pandemic.

A study in the U.K. found that 86.5% pet owners said their animals provided emotional support during the first lockdown, according to Forbes. Young and her colleagues report that the human-pet relationship could help bridge the gap of physical intimacy and connection during these troubled times. They also suggest that pets could be used to ease loneliness and stress in healthcare settings.

“There was this big explosion of adopting pets during COVID-19,” said Layla Esposito PhD, program director in the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “I think that speaks to the ability for humans and animals to bond, get pleasure and have positive relationships in this strange time in our existence, when human contact is discouraged.”

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