Psychology: How Animals Are Good for Our Souls – Panorama

Cuddling with a dog is a good thing: When cuddling and petting, the bonding hormone oxytocin is released. This reduces anxiety and stress. Photo: May Brett Winkler

Humans can benefit greatly from animals and their companionship, both socially and healthily. Sometimes it helps to act like a donkey.

Imagine not only running away as you walk, but carefully placing one foot in front of the other. So do donkeys. Often rated as simple-minded and stubborn by us humans, these intelligent animals know exactly what they want or don’t want – unlike many theropods. They do not let the bosses rush them through their work, and do not take unnecessary risks even in exchange for a tasty reward.

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“Donkeys originally come from the rocky desert. If they run away headless and panic like a horse, they break their knuckles. This means that the donkeys stop if they are not sure in any way. They do not even follow the leader. This is a well-thought-out act, Bettina Mochler explains. With her husband, Dr. Rainer Wolffarth founded Ani.Motion, an animal-assisted therapy institute. The donkeys there are not stubborn, but they are “strong in character and stable in their opinions.” Patients, such as people with depression or anxiety disorders, learn to see and follow their own needs when dealing with these animals. You learn how to say no like a donkey and how to guide him.

Donkey is good for our health

Of course, it’s not just about health at second glance, but “Mens sana in corpore sano,” as the Roman poet Juvenal said nearly 2,000 years ago: A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Setting boundaries is good for our psyche. Ergo: Donkey is good for our health. By the way, like a lot of animals.

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Various studies around the world have shown that birdsong makes you as happy as a salary increase, that heart attack patients recover faster if they have an animal in their home and that dogs in the office reduce stress. The parrots in a nursing home brought the residents back to life, even the alpacas in nursing homes made people with dementia who have lost speech and emotions shine bright, the horses provide post-traumatic therapy, the dog is quite useful for the long-term unemployed It is the wife of the bored millionaire, because it gives structure and provides Adequate fresh air. According to an American study, a dog can do well at night, at least for women, and guarantee a deeper sleep than sleeping next to a human partner.

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We know that calm animals lead to relaxation immediately. When you cuddle and caress, the bonding hormone oxytocin is released, which reduces anxiety and stress. Animals communicate with us through body language, and this is much clearer than language with words. “Dogs in particular, as well as donkeys, can read our body language very well,” says psychotherapist Wolffarth. In How Animals Make Us Healthy, he and his wife talk about a cow relieving the contractions of a spastic child, or a boy with ADHD who finally finds peace with chickens. It’s not just that autistic people get daily makeup from a dog: “Studies show that children who grow up with animals can play better with others, be more empathetic, have higher self-confidence, and even intellectual development is enhanced.” , says Wolfarth.

Researchers at Kuopio University in Finland found that children who grow up with animals are less likely to have allergies, respiratory infections, or middle ear infections.

Nature experiences for development

The sterile environment of many families and the fact that urban children in particular often only know animals from TV or computer games already has a new term: nature deficit disorder, a lack of knowledge of nature and no longer suffering from it. A child with this diagnosis has always painted a yellow duck, not knowing that the yellow duck can only stay in the bathtub. It is stupid for such a duck, that they see a good predator from a distance, but above all bad for everyone with this diagnosis, because the experience of nature is necessary for the development of the cognitive, motor and social skills of each child. “Unfortunately, we’ve forgotten how to deal with nature a bit,” psychiatrist Woolfarth laments.

A visit to the farm is a good start. Animal-assisted therapy has had good results in mental illness, both for children and adults. And you don’t even have to look far to do that, as Dr. Wolffarth: “Dolphin therapy is privately known, but dolphins have sharp teeth, are predators and can simply bite through their arm. There are many incidents that are rarely mentioned in public.” A cow can benefit people, too.

The only Germans

Whether you’re single, widowed or alone with a partner: nearly 20 percent of Germans feel lonely. All animals – from parrots to golden hamsters – accept their people as they are, regardless of age, beauty, intelligence or social status. Walking the dog can lower blood pressure, obesity, and cholesterol levels. This reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

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Trained assistance dogs recognize scent when an epileptic is about to have a seizure. So they can warn those affected earlier than any available technical device.

Riding therapies are especially suitable for people with depression, ADHD, autism, or spasticity. Riding is also an ideal training for back pain and improper stress on the musculoskeletal system in general, as well as a good prevention of musculoskeletal disorders.

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