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After the Bar

Personal & Financial

Pet Your Stress Away

Julie T Houth and Ashley Kloenhamer

Pet Your Stress Away
Oleksiy Boyko / EyeEm via GettyImages

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The mental and physical well-being of attorneys is a widespread problem that affects attorneys, both young and old. Studies have shown that practicing attorneys have significant substance abuse and mental health issues, which likely occurs because lawyers often live very stressful lives, frequently balancing work, family, and financial obligations. That said, studies have also shown that people with pets are generally less stressed than people without pets. Lawyers of all backgrounds can benefit both physically and mentally by having a pet.

The positive effect that pets have on humans, in general, has been the subject of many studies. According to Dr. Alan Beck at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, pets have the following positive impacts on increasing physical and mental health:

Pets Improve Overall Physical Health

Exercise provides a great escape to the hectic lives lawyers lead. Pet owners generally get more exercise by playing with their pets than they would if they did not own a pet. Dog owners especially get more exercise because they need to take their dogs for daily walks. Exercise is good for heart health. Studies show that pets lower blood pressure when pet owners, for example, pet their dogs or cats.

Pets Provide Companionship

Unfortunately, many lawyers are too busy to have a social life, which includes dating. Loneliness is a source of stress and, while having a pet is different from a romantic relationship, pets provide some form of companionship. Pets not only provide companionship, but they can also increase social interaction when pet owners schedule pet playdates. Dog parks provide time for both pets and pet owners to interact and socialize.

Pets Make Us Feel Loved

Pets generally provide unconditional love to their owners. They are non-judgmental, attentive, and affectionate. When pet owners return home, their pets are often waiting by the door and cannot wait to show their owners love. Pets and owners develop a loving bond. Some offices even bring pets, like puppies, to work to reduce stress because pets provide a soothing presence in a stressful environment.

Pets Provide Touch

Studies have shown that humans need to fulfill most senses to feel happy and productive. Touch is an important sense that may be under-stimulated because of lawyers’ long work hours, but touch improves the overall well-being of humans. Owners can stimulate their sense of touch by cuddling with pets. This contact not only shows love to their pets but also lowers their stress levels.

Pets make life better for all working professionals, including lawyers. Some pets have the training to assist owners with specific mental and physical illnesses, including anxiety, panic attacks, and high blood pressure—common ailments amongst lawyers. Even if you don’t have a pet of their own, consider opportunities to interact with domesticated animals. Lawyers interested in having a pet should consider adoption from a local pet store or animal shelter. The benefits of a pet companion do make them man’s best friend.

Lawyer Assistance Programs provide confidential services and support to judges, lawyers and law students who are facing substance use disorders or mental health issues. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, contact your state or local LAP.