“Puppy Room” At The University of Central Lancashire Is The Best Way To De-Stress Ever

It's not unusual for colleges and universities to provide programs and events geared towards helping their students de-stress during exam time — but this one might just win the award for Best Exam Time De-Stressing Activity Ever: The UK's University of Central Lancashire will have a “puppy room” available this week. It's exactly what you think it is, too — a room full of puppies for students to snuggle and play with — and it's for a good cause. Awesome? Awesome.

Organized as part of the UCLAN's SOS — “Stressed Out Students” — campaign, the puppy room event will be taking place on May 7. The university teamed up with the charity Guide Dogs, which aims to make seeing eye dogs accessible to blind and partially sighted people in the UK, in order to make the whole thing happen; for a donation of £1 (which goes straight to the charity), students will have the opportunity to romp around with a pup or two as a much-welcome break from their studying. Not going to lie: I think it's the best idea ever. Can't get to a pet cafe? Well, then, the pet cafe will come to you — although minus the coffee in this case. You can't have everything, unfortunately.

The event's Facebook page states that “the welfare of the puppies and safety of students are our top priorities within this project.” The puppies will have regular breaks throughout the three hour-long program; they will be with their handlers at all times, and a separate “chill out room” will be available for them if they need it. And hey, guess what? In addition to help raising funds for Guide Dogs, the event also serves a purpose for the puppies themselves: They're all training to be seeing eye dogs. As the Facebook page notes, “these opportunities give the puppies a chance to get used to being around people, which is great for their development and training to be a successful guide dog.” Everybody wins!

The benefits of pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, have been well documented, which makes the whole puppy room idea even better. Here are just a few of the perks to be had from spending some time with a cuddly creature (illustrated with puppy GIFs, of course):

1. Cuteness Can Improve Concentration

A 2012 Japanese study demonstrated that people show higher levels of concentration after looking at pictures of adorable puppies or kittens. I can only imagine that those levels of concentration will rise even further after playing with actual puppies. Terrific for studying, no?

2. Pets Are Good For Your Heart

Numerous studies have demonstrated the amazing effect spending time with a cuddly animal can have on our heart health. In 2007, for example, research published in the American Journal of Critical Care found that patients hospitalized with heart failure experienced lowered blood pressure and anxiety levels after a 12-minute visit with a therapy dog.

3. Laughter Is A Form Of Meditation

According to a study from 2014, Humor Associated with Mirthful Laughter, or HALM, produces brain waves similar to those produced during meditation. Since meditation is both great for controlling your stress levels and improving your focus… well, you do the math. It's pretty much impossible to play with a whole bunch of puppies without at least chuckling, so go ahead and laugh your head off.

4. Pets Boost Your Immune System

Exam time is one of the worst times to get sick, so why not give your immune system a little help in warding off that spring cold? In a 2004 study, participants who spent a few minutes petting a real dog had significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin A that participants who either pet a stuffed dog or just sitting quietly. This showed that the “enhanced psychoneuroimmunological response gained from petting a dog may have positive health implications such as improving ability to fight off infection.”

5. Pets Can Fight Off Loneliness

Feeling a little blue? A furry friend might help! A 2002 study examining the effects of pet therapy on senior loneliness discovered that people who spend just 30 minutes a week with a pet are significantly less lonely than those who don't. True, most students aren't elderly — but I'm willing to bet that pets can help stave off loneliness and depression in younger folks, too.

Images: Giphy (6)