A Student’s Best Friend

How having a pet helps some students with stress

Cali Stenger, Copy Editor

Stress is no stranger to high school students. More than 40% of students in the U.S have experienced the negative effects of stress in their daily lives, both in and outside of school. MentalHealth.org describes stress as the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. There are many strategies that can help students cope with stress: practicing yoga, getting enough sleep, and working on hobbies are just a few.

     However, one of the best strategies that may be surprising is spending time with pets. According to Harvard University, studies have shown that a person’s blood pressure significantly goes down after petting a dog. “My dog is a source of comfort to me,” said sophomore Anika Ylen, who has multiple pets including Nugget; an Australian cattle dog mix, a flock of chickens, and two cows named Daisy and Sparrow.

     Ylen agreed that just being able to care for and spend time with an animal takes some of the weight off people’s shoulders by fostering a sense of companionship and unconditional love. 

     “It’s very nice. If I’m having a bad day and I go visit my cows or my dog, I feel better, and if I can’t play with my dog one day, I know he will still love me no matter what.”

     Stress especially affects students in the spring, as they are preparing for AP exams and finals. With the challenges of difficult exams, as well as having lots of classes and not enough time, lowering stress levels is proven to improve students’ health and concentration.

     “I like to unwind by hanging out with my cat,” sophomore Madison Gray said. For Gray, who wants to go to college to be a veterinarian, life includes spending time with and taking care of many different types of animals. Gray has taken care of animals for her whole life, and she said that they definitely help reduce her stress. She especially enjoys caring for her horses and her dog, Dolly. 

     “With the horses, I like teaching them new things, since I compete with them too. My dog is a rescue and it’s been so nice to see her open up and start liking people and new places,” Gray said. 

     Whether it’s a cat, dog, tarantula, or gerbil, pets could offer a unique friendship and love that can often be therapeutic for their owners.