Give your pet a hug if they helped you survive the coronavirus lockdown.
The coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown around the world, has triggered a mental health crisis of sorts - anxiety, stress, nervousness, sleep disorders - this has not been easy for most, and it is far from over. However, according to a new study, people who had pets during the lockdown were less lonely and stressed than those who didn't.
The study, titled, "Human-animal relationships and interactions during the Covid-19 lockdown phase in the UK: Investigating links with mental health and loneliness" published a few days ago examines how the presence of animals during the lockdown had an impact on their humans' mental health. The study was conducted by the University of York and studied around 6,000 UK citizens.
The study aimed to study the interactions between humans and their animals, with regards to isolation and social distancing. The abstract of the study mentions the purpose - "We aimed to investigate links between mental health and loneliness, companion animal ownership, the human-animal bond, and human-animal interactions; and to explore animal owners’ perceptions related to the role of their animals during lockdown."
The research reveals that those who had pets during the lockdown had better mental health than those who didn't. At least 96% respondents said that their pets had helped them stay fit and active, both mentally and physically, during the lockdown.
The study also find that it does not matter what type of pet you have - it could be a dog, cat, a guinea pig or anything. "Strength of the human-animal bond in terms of emotional closeness or intimacy dimensions appears to be independent of animal species. Animal ownership seemed to mitigate some of the detrimental psychological effects of Covid-19 lockdown," the study reveals.
Another interesting finding by the researchers was that the pet owners were more concerned about their pets' well-being as compared to the pandemic. For instance, with added restrictions, it would be impossible to walk the dog or take them out for fresh air.