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How Does an ESA Help You Feel Better?
Have you been feeling down and unmotivated for months now? Is anxiety affecting your quality of sleep and day to day function? If you feel like something is up, you may need to consult a mental health professional about your current disposition. One of the treatment options you might want to explore in addition to medication and therapy is getting an Emotional Support Animal or ESA (I found that CertaPet is a great resource).
What is an ESA?
An ESA is an animal companion that offers emotional support to people diagnosed with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, phobia, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is also prescribed to individuals with learning disabilities like dyslexia and Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to help them focus and stay on-task.
Emotional support animals have been proven to effectively reduce the symptoms associated with the said conditions. If you’re thinking of getting qualified for an ESA, here are some things you should know about them.
Ways Your ESA Can Make You Feel Better
If you ever need someone to make you feel you good inside, you can always turn to your ESA for some positivity. Here’s how they make life bearable even on our worst days.
1. Your ESA can help you relax
Living with depression and anxiety feels like a constant battle between you and your self. It is difficult to calm down when you’re being attacked by your own negative thoughts and emotions.
People with emotional support animals find that it’s easier to relax with their ESA around. Stroking your emotional support dog or cat, for example, can bring a feeling of inner peace. Even watching your emotional support fish swim around the aquarium unbothered can reduce stress and lower your blood pressure. That’s the magic ESAs have on us humans!
2. Your ESA can make you feel happier
Yes, your ESA can make you feel joy. They do not even need to perform fun tricks to be able to do this. Their companionship is enough to bring a smile to your face.
There’s a whole scientific explanation behind this. We may not be consciously aware of it, but emotional animals affect the way our brain functions so much that they can alter our mood. Whenever we play or have any kind of interaction with an ESA, the pituitary gland feels the need to release oxytocin. This neurochemical is in charge of making us feel better by influencing our emotions.
3. Your ESA instills a sense of purpose
For people who are struggling with their mental health, it is very easy to spiral down into an existential crisis. It helps to have something that can give you a sense of purpose. One might find an emotional support animal helpful in this situation.
Waking up early to fix your ESA some breakfast can give your morning some meaning. Having a list of tasks to accomplish can provide structure to your day which can benefit individuals with depression.
4. Your ESA will encourage you to work out
Are you finding it hard to establish an exercise routine? Getting an emotional support animal can help you out with that. If you want to get yourself in the habit of walking or running, having a dog as an ESA may just be the extra push you need to lace up.
Engaging in motor activity can help you feel better. It is a natural mood booster as much as it is an effective way to reduce stress levels. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins which is known as the “happy hormone”. It activates brain receptors which help alleviate pain. Endorphins may also decrease feelings of fatigue which is a common symptom of depression.
5. Your ESA can help you meet friends
Every time you take your ESA out, you are also giving yourself an opportunity to meet other pet parents. It’s always great to get some sunshine and interact with people in the real world. Being surrounded by good company affects our state of mind in a positive way.
According to experts, weak social connections can affect our sense of identity which will eventually develop into feelings of insecurity. Having an ESA can help you bond with a friend who also has the same type of animal companion. You can even join forums and find a community of people with emotional support animals on social media. Building and maintaining relationships can improve the quality of your social life and your overall well-being.
6. Your ESA will make you feel less alone
Having people around can be overwhelming even for introverts. Some days, it makes sense to just stay inside the comfort of bedroom walls, lights off, and blinds down. However, being alone can feel lonely, too, and so begins the vicious cycle. Emotional support animals may just be the right kind of company to get you through days like this.
7. Your ESA will make you feel more confident
Individuals prescribed with emotional support animals reported an increase in feelings of self-esteem. According to some statements, having an ESA around can distract humans from constant self-criticism and make them more confident in moments where they have to be put on the spot.
8. Your ESA can alleviate symptoms of certain psychological disorders
If you are clinically diagnosed with anxiety disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), an emotional support animal can help you feel better. Research has found that having an ESA as company can reduce the occurrence of panic attacks and improve your quality of sleep. It also states that patients with Acute Stress Disorder recover faster with an animal companion.
There is so much an emotional support animal can do to help us feel better. If you feel like you need one in your life, talk to a licensed mental health professional and see if you are qualified for an ESA.