Having pets in your life when you have ADHD is very beneficial not only in reducing unwanted ADHD symptoms, but also for your overall physical health and happiness. While you may be thinking, “but I can barely take care of myself, let alone another living creature,” it has been my experience that adults with ADHD make fabulous pet owners. While they may struggle with the stresses of life, their pet’s health is never compromised. Far from it.

Here are five reasons why having a pet is good for you if you have ADHD:

1. Self-esteem

Self-esteem levels are often low in adults with ADHD after years of not measuring up to society’s “norms.” The good news is that your pet does wonders for your self-esteem. They are completely non-judgmental and provide you with unconditional love regardless of if you took the trash out or did a good presentation at work. Plus, knowing that you are able to take care of them so well will further boost your self-esteem.

2. Stress

Living with ADHD can definitely be stressful. Trying to live up to your own expectations and that of other people, missing deadlines and appointments despite making huge efforts, losing items or forgetting information can definitely be stressful. It is a double-edged sword because when you are stressed your ADHD symptoms are exacerbated. The good news is that it only takes 15 to 30 minutes with your cat or dog or even watching your fish is enough time for chemical changes to take place in your body and for you to feel less anxious and stressed.

3. Healthy Habits

Creating and maintaining healthy habits can be really tricky. A benefit of having a pet, particularly a dog, is that they provide you with structure to your day. They need you to wake up at a regular time in the morning so they can go for a walk, and since you know you are going to wake up at roughly the same time ever morning, this forces you to go to bed at a sensible time every night. Also, as dogs need walking, you will never forget to do your daily exercise.

4. Social Contact

Social interaction is vital to our mental and physical health. Various studies have found that dog owners have many more interactions with other people when they are walking their dog than a non-dog owner walking the same route. Adults with ADHD can find social interaction difficult, so have a dog is exceedingly helpful in facilitating this. Not only will you speak to more people when you are out and about with your dog, you will also gain confidence talking to people in all situations.

5. Physical Health

While you might think that dogs seem to be the most beneficial pet, there is good news for cat owners, too. In one longitudinal study it was found that people who didn’t own a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than people that did. Another study showed that cat owners had fewer strokes than non-cat owners.

Actions

  1. Consider getting a pet! While it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, they do provide you with endless joy and laughter and they are good for your ADHD.
  2. If you are uncertain for whatever reason, remember knowledge is power. Do some reading on what taking care of a pet would mean. Also, talk to other pet owners.
  3. Offer to pet sit for friends or family as practice.

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