Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. – Anatole France
Growing up in an alcoholic home, it was only natural to find solace in relationships with animals. My lifelong love for them is clearly the product of childhood trauma. The adult daughter of an alcoholic, I have revisited memories of happier times which offered the freedom only an unconditional love can reward. And, today I continue to be an advocate for the studies and therapeutic benefits of the Animal -Human bond during trauma recovery.
Little did I know, so many years ago, about the amazing healing power of animals. Today, many of us have come to realize the countless benefits. Among those, are emotional, spiritual, and physical benefits. Research has proven people who interact with animals often experience increased levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin is also referred to as the trust hormone, love hormone, or bonding hormone. It is additionally linked to increased feelings of self-esteem, self-worth, and optimism. I don’t know about you, but, I dig feelings of positivity!
It’s no surprise many of the best treatment modalities these days include animal assisted therapeutic interventions. Canine companions can be seen wandering the halls of many residential centers as horses lovingly inspire residents to blaze happier trails through otherwise impossible emotional endeavors. Even parrots have proven themselves worthy of best friend status.
Getting back to physical benefits, pet companions have also been linked to benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering levels of stress, decreasing the need to visit physicians as often, and lowering blood pressure; lest I forget to mention weight loss and increased flexibility. Take that, Yogis!
Social benefits are part of the package as well. There is less likelihood of isolating and feeling lonely. Face it; dogs didn’t earn the name “date magnets” for no apparent reason.
Be encouraged and take heart. Whether, you or your loved ones are grieving a recent loss, or perhaps other therapeutic treatment interventions may have seemed to plateau, there is hope. Stay open minded to the natural healers our wonderful universe has provided for us.
In closing, I can tell you each time I interact with animals; they share their distinct personalities, their past, and gift me an opportunity to participate in their present. They share their love and energy, reminding me we are all a product of our past.