Attractive cheerful Caucasian male in casual t shirt, spectacles, holds a favourite pet

How ESA Changes Your Life for Better

7 min read

What actually brings happiness in life? Is it something a person has achieved and is proud of? And would it actually matter in a hundred years when everything is washed away by the sands of time? Is it wallowing in day to day pleasures, although a little bit pointless and unrewarding in the long run? Is it wealth, and ability to acquire whatever material thing you can wish for? But how many people you heard about have been consumed by greed? And in the end, the things that matter the most are not for sale. Because can you really buy integrity, self-respect, love, comradery or friendship?

Not really, no! But unlike human relations that can be complicated, connection with animals is much more honest and simple. Animals build trust and respect with people because of how you treat them and what you do for them, and not because of how you appear. There are countless stories about pets going above and beyond for their owners, risking their life and displaying eternal loyalty. Like a little skye terrier named Bobby from Scotland that visited its owner’s grave every day after he passed away and got a monument erected for it in Edinburgh.

This loyalty is especially important for people who suffer psychological problems. Animals are a treasure trove of psychological support, and they are keen to recognize human emotions and give unconditional support when it’s needed. That's why a legal category of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) exists. If keeping an animal has been prescribed to you by a licensed mental health practitioner for a therapy or a therapy supplement, it is considered to be an ESA.

So, how actually can ESA benefit your life? Let`s discuss.

Helps to stay fit and forces to go out

Man runs with his beagle dog. Morning Canicross exercise concept image
If you own a dog, you have no chances to stay inactive

The modern way of life has a lot of upsides, compared to the days of old: access to medicine, decent security, no need for a hard, backbreaking labor, and an abundance of entertainment, to name a few. But there are downsides. Prolonged mental stress combined with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can cause or exacerbate a multitude of mental problems. An ESA can provide that important connection to nature... Also, speaking from a bit more practical aspect   - that puppy ain't gonna walk itself!

Walking a dog might seem like something inconsequential. But it’s an important part of building a human-dog relationship. And a dog needs a daily walk to be stimulated it mentally, and, perhaps, so does its owner. Having a daily walk and seeing other people is a good routine to have, especially, if you are prone to depression.

And if you get a particularly active dog breed, you also need to run with it. Physical exercise is considered to be another effective way to manage stress, anxiety, depression, and many other conditions. So if you don't have a company for that morning jog, your pet friend will help you with that gladly. Just remember to provide a running dog with a break or two and an ample supply of drinking water to cool off, as dogs tend to overheat quicker than humans.

Reduces stress level

Beautiful young woman with cute cat resting at home
Hugging a pet is a best way to lower your stress level

Going for a walk or jogging for a bit is recommended for stress reduction too. A walk every morning makes a person more stress-resistant, jovial and lively. A walk in the evening helps to take your mind off work, relax, and get a good night's sleep. Catching a gasp of fresh air usually improves sleep immensely. And not only that, it can also help reduce weight, improve cardiovascular health and it provides a basic dose of fitness.

Keeping an animal in itself a great way to manage stress. According to various experiments, petting an animal has a measurable effect on stress levels, and engaging in play with a cat or a dog is a good wind down after work. A Denver-based IT company decided to utilize this in their workspace, allowing employees to take all kinds of animals to work. Snakes, lizards, cats, dogs - you name it! They claim, it has greatly increased productivity and decreased stress at the workplace. And it also helps thousands of Americans to reduce stress during flights.

However, please keep in mind that keeping an active animal can also create stressful situations. So, if you feel you can have trouble managing it, give preference to more placid, calm and contained creatures.

Creates a daily routine

Wet cat in the bath
The necessity to take care of your ESA forces a person into a daily schedule

The New York Times online magazine says that living with emotional support animals permanently has changed the lives of people with different disorders and substantially improved the quality of their life. As so, a guy from Florida, who suffers from anxiety, has got himself a duck Primadonna that helps him fight this gruesome condition.

Having an animal at home forces a person into a daily schedule, and keeping one is considered a good method to ease or treat most of mental disorders. Every specialist knows that the best therapy is the one where a patient participates willingly. Any animal needs daily care, and providing it is not much of a chore for an animal person.

They need to get fed, to have their water changed to have a walk with them to clean their tray or a terrarium, and so forth. This daily care will help to form a daily schedule, which in turn will make you feel better. Clearly, the healing power of schedule shouldn’t get underestimated.

Can make a good company to lonely people

Young girl embraces a sad brown dog on the seashore, soft focus
Noone can be lonely with a loving pet

Of all the bad emotions, loneliness is one of the most destructive. It's hard to adjust yourself when no one is looking. It’s hard to keep a sense of what is normal when there is no one around you. And it is certainly hard to go through life alone. A lot of people with mental disorders also suffer from loneliness as there is still a stigma around mental health in our society.

And while loneliness itself is not enough to cause a disorder, but it can exacerbate one. It also drastically decreases the quality of life. Getting an ESA is certainly one way to manage it, as animals are great at providing company and supporting owners through hard times.

Teaches a person to connect and empathize

Man giving hand to somebody, closeup. Help and support concept
Animals teach people to connect and empathize

Animal companions are good at teaching empathy and showing children how to connect with others. As they look after a puppy or a kitten, they learn to take responsibility for the others too. Kids also learn to read emotions from other creature's expressions. And learning hands-on is always the best way.

This is totally invaluable for people with autism or social phobias as it helps them to learn how to communicate, gradually. It can be much easier to find a connection with an animal than with another human. Animals don't need fancy words or gestures to relate to you - they understand emotions and fairly respectful treatment. Animal therapy helps many patients with autism and extreme forms of PTSD all around the world.

Understands what you feel and brings joy

Young woman with a dog outside, both happy
Human-pet relationship is what makes both parties truly happy

A girl named Ashley Hoffman is a blogger and she shared her feelings concerning her emotional support dog in the Mighty online magazine. She says:

“Since I was 14, I’ve been living with a major depressive disorder which is a friend and an enemy in one package. All of my childhood I had dogs which helped me so much that it was hard for me to leave them at home when I was away. Thus, thanks to the loyal regulations, I live with my dog Maddy in a dorm room at college. Maddy is the reason I wake up every morning simply because I have to go for a walk with her. Moreover, she makes me more organized and disciplined, and I always follow my plan for the day because of her. On top of that, she is my closest friend and faithful companion, no matter what happens. At some point, I even treat her as a child of mine.”

Many people know what she’s talking about, but here is another point:

“I want to spend all of my time with my emotional support cat, even go for a flight, but sometimes I can’t. It is easy to refresh my ESA letter so I have to pay more.”

Well, if you happen to have a similar problem, consider learning from Ashley’s case.

It's not hard to get an ESA

And it is not hard to get one. All you need is a DSM-5 diagnosis and a prescription for an ESA. Ask a licensed psychotherapist, social worker, psychiatrist or physician who can prescribe you an ESA for your condition. ESAs are applicable for a number of mental disorders, like depression, bipolar, OCD, PTSD, panic phobia, acute stress, schizophrenia, autism, age-related cognitive decline, ADHD, and others. By the way, don’t forget to ask for an ESA letter. It's a document that you can use to move in apartment or get on a board of a plane with your ESA. Good luck!

by GetESA

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ESA 101: Educational