Skip to content

Spending time with animals / pets

Lots of people find spending time with animals a really fun and soothing way to help their mental health. This could look from playing with or stroking a pet, volunteering at a local animal rescue project or visiting a local farm, zoo or pet shop. A lot of people find it very calming whilst also helping them to get away from their usual thoughts.

‘Cats don’t talk back’

If you don't have a pet or know anyone you can pet-sit for, why not consider volunteering for RSPCA or Blue Cross?  Not only will you get to spend time with animals but you'll gain new skills which you can add to your CV and may help improve your confidence!

In this video, Dr James Greenwood from CBBC's The Pets Factor discusses how being around animals and his pet dog, Oliver, helps him manage his mental wellbeing.  Dr James also wrote a blog about the benefits of spending time with pets and animals which you can read here.

What young people have told us:

'Talking to my dog really helps especially because he can't talk back to me and he has no idea what i'm talking about.  It's also really nice to just sit on the sofa and hug or stroke him.'

'My cat is my best friend. She makes me feel less alone. When I pet my cat I feel more relaxed and happy.'

'If you have a pet then I'd definitely recommend this. Even if you don't have a pet talking or hugging a teddy has the same effect.'

'Honestly, it's because the dog doesn't care. He just loves cuddles, and looking at his silly face just makes things feel calmer.'

'Pets are calming, fun to play with, give you a reason to go out, listen and do not judge your mistakes.'

'It helps just knowing your pet will love you no matter how good or bad you look, listen to you if you speak to them, engage with you, and no matter what they do not judge you for being you.'

'Spend time with your pets, when your happy or sad, getting you and your pet out will make you both feel better :)'

Why not send us your pet images?


There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.

If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.