It’s no secret that college is stressful. With classes, studying, homework, midterms, extracurricular activities, and even working part-time, it’s no wonder that students feel stress and anxiety every single day. Indeed, college students these days feel so much constant stress and anxiety that an increasing amount of students are reporting mental health issues so severe that it’s difficult for them to function.
While it can seem impossible to reduce stress when you have nothing but deadlines and due dates coming at you, there are ways to help combat stress and bring a little peace and happiness to your life, and one such way is getting a pet.
At first glance, getting a pet can seem just like another thing in a huge list of responsibilities and obligations. But really, having a pet in your life can help you in so many ways. Here are a few ways in which pets can help ease your college stress and anxiety.
1. They Can Help You Keep to a Schedule
College life is hectic, and with so many different classes and due dates, your personal schedule can get out of whack pretty fast. When you have a furry friend relying on you for their every need, it can help you prioritize and schedule things to make sure you are available to your pet at specific times. Knowing you have that responsibility will help you to designate times for classes, study, work, and play time, giving you a reason to stick more closely to a daily routine.
2. They Help you Get More Exercise
College students have a knack for neglecting exercise and getting outside. It’s understandable when you’ve got so much on your plate, but it can be detrimental to your health not just physically, but mentally as well. The sedentary lifestyle that many college students tend to adopt can cause a host of problems, including weight gain, decreased energy, and depression.
Having a pet — a dog specifically — can help you make sure you are getting daily exercise. Cardio exercises like walking or jogging are going to benefit your overall health, but most of all they’re going to help you relieve stress in a constructive way. All dog breeds have different energy needs, but any dog is going to need a daily walk at the very least. It’s a win-win of spending time with a good dog and getting some exercise while enjoying some beneficial time outside — something that also relieves stress and boosts your mood.
3. They Help You Stay Tidied Up
Cleaning house is often the last thing on a student’s mind when assignments, essays, and finals are constantly looming. When you’re overwhelmed from school and barely have the energy to finish school work, it can be hard to muster up the energy to tidy up and get rid of unnecessary things. A messy house can exacerbate feelings of stress and depression, leading to a vicious cycle that is detrimental to your mental health.
But when you have a pet, it’s of utmost importance that you stay cleaned up; pets don’t always know what’s okay to eat and what’s not, so making sure there is nothing they can get ahold of laying around is vital. The safety of a pet will motivate anyone to clean up and declutter to make sure their pet is not only safe from eating dangerous things, but also from destroying important things; “The dog ate my homework” isn’t going to fly in college. Staying clean for the safety of your pet will help to ensure that you always have a clean house to come home to, contributing to a less stressful environment.
They Give You Emotional Support
College can feel very lonely and be overwhelming a lot of the time. It’s the first time students are on their own, and many struggle to make friends and keep up with daily responsibilities. It can be hard to reach out to people when feelings of depression and anxiety are taking over — this is when having a pet is going to be most beneficial.
We can form emotional connections with pets that are unlike any other. Pets are non-judgemental, they love unconditionally, and they always seem to know exactly when we need some cuddles. Studies show that the human-pet bond is beneficial to overall health, especially when it comes to mental health, and petting alone can lower stress-induced blood pressure.
It’s plain to see that college students can benefit from having a pet in their life. With all of the ways having a pet can help reduce your stress and improve mental health, it’s definitely worth considering adding a furry friend to your life. Getting a pet is not something to take lightly, though; do your research, and be sure to find a pet that is the right fit for you.
Mila Sanchez is a writer and recent graduate with a BA in English Linguistics. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram!