Pets and Improved Mental Health: It’s Not Just for Cats and Dogs
It is fairly well-known that having a pet can provide significant mental health benefits. But, when we read the studies or see the news clips, the coverage mostly relates to owning cats or dogs, and not often more exotic pets like chameleons. However, owning any pet can be beneficial to your mental health. And that includes our unique chameleon friends.
So, how can owning a chameleon help your mental health? Let me count the ways!
1. Pets Soothe and Relax
Most studies show that pet owners have lower blood pressure and heart rates when dealing with challenging mental stresses. This could pertain to everyday situations like paying bills, helping children with their homework, or watching your favorite sports team getting knocked out of the playoffs. Just their presence can relax and soothe their owners, regardless of whether they are of the furry variety or not.
In fact, one piece of research demonstrated a connection between lower stress and simply watching a fish tank, even when the fish didn’t belong to the individual being observed. And, if you want to talk about a pet that can’t provide physical affection, then a fish is likely the epitome of that. Yet, their presence is enough to cause a positive reaction.
2. Pets Don’t Judge
Another benefit that applies to any pet, including chameleons, is that they don’t judge their owners. There is no negative feedback about the decisions you made, the clothes you wear, or the quality of your resume. And that means we can say anything in their presence without fear of ridicule or reprisal. In some cases, that is more than we can say of our closest friends, so it’s no wonder so many people cite feeling as close to their pets as some of their friends and family members.
3. Pets Give Us Purpose
Research on depression has shown that the responsibility of owning a pet is beneficial to mental health. We develop skills in caring for our animal brethren, and we know that we are being relied on for their care. By managing the tasks successfully, our self-esteem can improve. It also ensures that we maintain a particular schedule, as not getting out of bed and skipping a feeding, misting, or cleaning isn’t necessarily an option.
4. Chameleons Help Fill a Gap
Therapy animals have been on the mental health scene for some time. But that doesn’t mean everyone wants to own a traditional fuzzy creature like a cat or dog. In fact, someone suffering from serious allergies to cats or dogs may actually find their mental state worse with this form of animal companion and not better. And that’s where some of the more exotic choices come in.
Chameleons, snacks, toads, and other reptiles and amphibians give options to those who aren’t as enthusiastic about owning a furry friend. And that means those individuals can get the companionship they need to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression in the same way that many others do.
And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.