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5 Ways Animal Friendships Are Self-Care

5 Ways Animal Friendships Are Self-Care

Need an excuse for hanging out with your favorite pet? We’ve got you. Here at Maidenfolk, we feel strongly that self-care isn’t one size fits all, and doesn’t look one single way. We believe in taking the elements of life that nurture us most, and intentionally using those elements as self-care. The animals in our lives bring us so much nurturance, which is why we believe that animal friendships are self-care in and of themselves.

Animal friendships can provide a unique form of self-care that brings joy, comfort, and emotional support into our lives. Interacting with animals has been shown to have numerous positive effects on our well-being. Whether it’s a pet, or animals you are able to connect with outside of your home at a farm, zoo, aquarium, or safely in nature, the benefits of animals in our lives is heartwarming.

Photo by @jaleemom

Here’s how animal friendships are self-care in their own way:

1. They offer us unconditional, non-judgmental love.

Unless it’s a cat… just kidding! They can provide a safe and non-judgmental space where we can simply be ourselves without fear of rejection. This genuine affection from animals can boost our self-esteem and sense of belonging. We love them so much for that *insert happy crying emoji.*

2. They have an ability to intuit our feelings, without any language involved.

Animals show us this by laying beside us, bringing us a toy as an offering of comfort, and possibly even crying with us. They can be there to listen even if they can’t necessarily respond. They offer a comforting presence during times of sadness, anxiety, or loneliness. Their companionship provides solace and helps us navigate difficult emotions.

3. They show us the value of play, exercise, and fresh air, and social interaction.

If you have a dog, for example, they need to be walked daily. This may get you out of the house first thing in the morning and throughout the day. It takes you to the park, where you may interact with other dog owners. All animals are deeply connected to nature and the outdoors. They don’t feel quite right without it, which reminds us how we also need nature. Just watch any animal as they bask in the sunlight, knowing it is necessary.

4. They calm our nervous systems.

Spending time with animals, whether petting a cat, walking a dog, or even watching fish swim in an aquarium, can have a calming effect on our nervous system. The presence of animals has been known to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and promote relaxation. This is why therapy animals exist, the presence of a calm animal can have a co-regulating effect on our systems.

5. They remind us of the power of mindfulness and presence.

They have a way of living in the present moment, similar to human children, which can be a valuable lesson for us. Interacting with animals can help us practice mindfulness, as we observe what they observe, notice their behaviors, and enjoy the simple pleasures of being in their company. We can practice sensory mindfulness by petting their fur and full immersing ourselves in their presence with mindfulness.

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Animal and human relationships truly are a beautiful thing, and may be one of the best parts of life. It’s uplifting to bond with another creature who is so purely connected to their original essence. They don’t have jobs, responsibilities, bills, or any of the other taxing elements of adult human life (lucky…). Yet, they show us empathy and remind us how to deal with life without attachment to the negative. They shake off stress and keep moving forward, with endless love and forgiveness.

Cultivating animal friendships as a form of self-care requires responsible pet ownership, respecting animals’ needs and boundaries, and ensuring their well-being. Whether through owning a pet, volunteering at an animal shelter, or simply observing animals in nature, animal friendships can play a transformational role in enhancing our self-care practices and overall quality of life. So, next time you need a little pick me up, spend some intentional quality time with an animal in your life.

Do you feel like animal friendships are self-care in your life? Share with us @Maidenfolk on Instagram and let us know, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter below!

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