How Pets Can Help You Live a More Balanced Life

      Americans love to work but we're also stressed out. Victoria Trabosh, Executive Coach and author of Dead Rita's Wisdom, shared how having a pet can help you live a more balanced life.

      Taking our pets for a simple walk around the block gets us moving, allows us to tap into nature, and forget our problems.
      Holding and playing with our pets releases endorphins which create happiness and relaxation. The simple act of petting an animalor even gazing at an aquariumresults in a drop in blood pressure.
      Pets can be chick or man magnets!! If you're shy and would love to meet someone, take a puppy on a walk! One of the key benefits of dogs is their ability to break down the barriers that keep humans from connecting. After all, how many times have you chatted easily with a stranger while petting their dog? You may meet someone - maybe the partner of your dreams!
      Our pets are a great reminder of the value of unconditional love. If you're feeling hurt by someone from something they're said, remember how we at times can use a stern voice with our pets (or even yell at them). It's clear we've hurt them, but how quickly do they "forgive" us. What if each of us learned the power of forgiveness and unconditional love through our pets?
      So many businesses are allowing pets into the workplace because of the joy they bring their owners. When dogs are around, many people feel relaxed and happy. In fact, many companies with reputations for being great places to work are dog friendly. Lots of small retail businesses allow them and we've all walked into shops where the resident cat or dog is holding court!
      Research shows that being able to care for a pet improves our morale, helps validate us and encourages us to take care of ourselves, says Rebecca Johnson, director of the University of Missouri's Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction. The body of research is leading more retirement communities and universities to roll out the welcome mat for pets.

      February is heart health month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels -- all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack down the road. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that patients with a dog or a cat tend to have better recovery rates. These benefits are thought to be connected with pets' tendency to help reduce their owners' overall stress levels.

      What if pet ownership is not an option?
      For many reasons, people who love animals can't have them. Must they live with a broken heart? No! Ways to feed your need to love animals:

      1. Volunteer at a shelter even if it's only once a month.
      2. Support animal rights causes that you're passionate about.
      3. If you have a friend or family member, offer to pet sit at their place if they go on vacation or a weekend away.
      4. Start a pet sitting service where you go into people's homes.
      5. Have older neighbors that can't get out regularly to walk their dog? Offer to help them with a consistent (even if it must be less frequent than you'd like) walk schedule for their sweet pet.
      6. Volunteer at one of the many pet fundraisers that happen year round.
      Finally, tapping into the unconditional love of a pet reminds us that love comes in all shapes and furry sizes, they offer comfort, and reminds us this Valentine's Day week that Love is the most important state of being for longevity, happiness, a sense of connection, serenity, and health.