Doing this simple thing with your pet can reduce stress levels

Balancing your career, family life and an active social life can be quite stressful, so we’re all about trying new wellness methods to ease our minds and feel zen. And a new study has revealed a quick and easy way to do just that – though you’ll need to be a pet owner for this one.

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Scientists from Washington State University have found that petting and cuddling your cat or dog for just ten minutes can instantly reduce your stress levels.

The research, published in AERA Open, an open access journal by the American Educational Research Association, was conducted via a study in which scientists looked at how 249 college students interacted with cats and dogs in different ways.

As reported by Pretty52, Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in WSU’s Departments of Human Development explained the study, saying: ‘Just ten minutes can have a significant impact. Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.’

In order to get their results, the researchers divided the participants into four different groups. Group number one had 10 minutes of hands-on interaction with dogs and cats and group number two sat and observed others petting the animals, while the third group watched a slideshow of the same animals and the fourth was put on a waiting list and told they would be allowed to see the animals after waiting for 10 minutes.

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Their results, which were determined by salivary samples that were collected from each participant that morning, showed a significant decrease in the students’ cortisol levels during a real-life intervention and became the first research project to do so.

‘We already knew that students enjoy interacting with animals and that is helps them experience more positive emotions,’ said Dr Pendry. ‘What we wanted to learn was whether this exposure would help students reduce their stress in a less subjective way.’

She added: ‘And it did, which is exciting because the reduction of stress hormones may, over time, have significant benefits for physical and mental health.’

Right, we’re off to pitch a de-stressing pets hour to our boss.