Whether you're in college or have already graduated, you probably understand the ridiculous stress of midterms and finals. When I was studying for the MCAT, my roommate would frequently come home to find me sitting, zombified, in the corner of the apartment watching endless videos of rag doll kittens falling over instead of actually doing work. As it turns out, there's a scientific reason I make it my life goal to watch all the kitten videos on the Internet when stressed; a study published in the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health shows that animal therapy reduces anxiety and loneliness in college students by as much as 60 percent.Animal therapy has been shown time and time again to help in all kinds of situations, from relieving the pain of joint-replacement surgery patients to reducing anxiety before MRIs. In this particular study, 55 participants were given animal-assisted group therapy twice a month for one quarter. In addition to the huge decrease in anxiety and loneliness, 84 percent said the therapy dog was the most significant part of their experience. Basically, puppies are the best things ever, second only to kittens. (Which reminds me, therapy kittens are totally a thing. You're welcome.)
I'll take 12 please.
I probably don't need to tell you how anxiety can decrease quality of life, and is even linked to higher risk for a heart attack, or that loneliness can affect your sleep (which is linked to a whole bunch of other health problems) and is just a spectacularly awful feeling in general. Many college students suffer from anxiety and depression during the transition from high school to adult life, but unfortunately the increase in students seeking help hasn't caused an increase in college counseling centers' budgets. Because animal therapy lends itself well to group settings, it could even be a cost-effective way to treat students in the future. Also, you know, puppies.
So next time you're feeling anxious about a paper that you haven't started, even though it's due in two hours, go ahead and watch Butterball learning to go down stairs four times in a row.
Or, if puppies aren't your thing, how about a surprised kitty? It's a classic for a reason.
Or this kitten completely failing to realize its playmate is made from porcelain?
OK, full disclosure here; I totally wrote about this study as a transparent excuse to post a bunch of cat videos. But seriously, next time you're stressed out, try offering to pet-sit for your friends. They'll love you for it, and you'll feel better afterward.
Oh no, my hand slipped.
(I love my job.)