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Good News: Cats Are Good For Your Health

Good News: Cats Are Good For Your Health

Scientists studying the human-animal bond have discovered there are health benefits of owning a cat. Yes, even that belittled “black cat” can be good for you!

1. Help your cardiovascular system

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    Studies at the University of Minnesota determined those who did not own cats were 30-40% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than cat owners were. (Sorry, dog owners, you don’t see the same benefit.) The chance of death from sudden heart attack is reduced, too, for cat owners. A study funded by the NIH determined that pet owners were more likely than non-owners to survive a heart attack, regardless of the severity of that attack.
    Other research suggests that owning a cat compares favorably with going on a low-salt diet for reducing heart disease risk.

    2. Help your immune system

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      The immune system gets a boost from the feeling you get just by owning a cat. Owning a cat may lead to improved social support, reduced depression, and more laughter, play and exercise – all of these help your immune system function better.
      And cats can tell when you’re not feeling well. They help you get better by coming to comfort you.

      3. Avoid allergies and respiratory problems

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        Children who are raised around cats (and dogs) develop immunity to allergens at an early age. The incidence of respiratory problems, including asthma, is reduced in children exposed to cats early in their lives.
        As a bonus, children raised with pets appear to develop greater empathy for the feelings of others and relate better to other people.

        4. Lower your blood pressure

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          Petting your cat is calming and reduces your blood pressure. Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo found lower blood pressure in the study subjects who owned pets compared with those who did not.

          5. Lower your cholesterol and triglycerides

          Diet and exercise go a long way toward reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but owning a cat helps, too. A 2006 Canadian study found owning a cat lowered cholesterol better than even some medications.

          6. Reduce your stroke risk

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            A University of Minnesota study determined cat ownership can reduce your stroke risk by up to one-third!

            7. Heal your bones and muscles

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              Cats purr at a frequency between 20-140 Hz, which is known to have therapeutic effects. Bones heal best at 25 Hz and 50 Hz frequencies (and 100 Hz and 200 Hz are also helpful). Soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments heal faster at these frequencies. And infections and swelling are also healed in this frequency range.

              8. Reduce anxiety and stress

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                In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, with more work and less socializing, interacting with a pet brings play-time and creativity back into your life. Caring for your cat and cuddling with your cat take your mind off your own worries and reduce your levels of anxiety and stress.

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                9. Improve your mood, relieve depression

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                  Cats may have the reputation of being solitary, unsocial animals but cat owners know this is not the case. The love and companionship of a cat helps you feel better about life in general and can lift your mood and lessen feelings of depression.

                  10. Reduce loneliness

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                    Having a person-cat connection is a form of social interaction. If your group of friends is small, or far away, your cat can help relieve your feelings of loneliness. If you come home to an empty house at the end of the day, spending time with your cat can uplift your mood.
                    Families today are smaller and often far apart. Empty-nesters fulfill the need to nurture and find a reason to get up in the morning by owning a cat. The social support provided by your pet may encourage you to interact more with other people.

                    11. Therapy pets reduce medical expenses

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                      People who own cats make fewer doctor and hospital visits. When they do visit the hospital, they are discharged earlier. Overall, their medical expenses are reduced.
                      Therapy dogs are fairly common in nursing homes and special-needs schools, but there are therapy cats, too. Cats know who needs a good purring!

                      12. Exercise

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                        Cats don’t need as much exercise as dogs, but they still love to play. Make your cat your exercise buddy and help him bat a toy mouse around! Watch your cat and learn how to stretch! Observe how many times your cat stretches – and when he does it – and join in!
                        The “pet effect” can improve your quality of life. Cats may not be able to confer their “9 lives” onto their owners, but you can improve the one life you do have by sharing it with a cat!

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                        Last Updated on November 9, 2020

                        10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

                        10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

                        Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

                        Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

                        Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

                        If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

                        Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

                        1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

                        Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

                        Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

                        Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

                        2. No Motivation

                        Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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                        This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

                        If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

                        3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

                        Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

                        A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

                        A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

                        The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

                        4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

                        One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

                        We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

                        Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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                        You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

                        5. Upward Comparisons

                        Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

                        The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

                        These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

                        Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

                        6. No Alternative

                        This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

                        Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

                        Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

                        Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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                        7. Stress

                        As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

                        When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

                        We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

                        If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

                        8. Sense of Failure

                        People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

                        Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

                        Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

                        If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

                        9. The Need to Be All-New

                        People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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                        These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

                        10. Force of Habit

                        Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

                        Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

                        These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

                        Final Thoughts

                        These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

                        There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

                        More on Breaking Bad Habits

                        Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
                        [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
                        [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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