The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Caring for something outside of ourselves can have a positive impact on our wellness, mental health, and overall quality of life. Whether it’s tending to plants or nurturing pets, the act of caregiving fosters a sense of purpose, connection, and fulfillment. 

Learn how caring for living things can improve your well-being. It can also lead to a happier, healthier life.

Why Caretaking Can Enrich Lives

Taking care of something other than ourselves can bring joy and structure to our lives. Although responsibility requires commitment and involves several tasks, we may gain more than we expend.

Both plants and pets give something back for the care they receive. Plants grow, thrive, and some even bloom for us. They beautify our homes and make our spaces feel warmer. As they grow, we can track their progress and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Pets, on the other hand, give warmth and affection that plants cannot. Many pets enjoy cuddling with their owners, appear happy to see them, and behave like they miss their family when they’re gone.

They’re often cute, fuzzy, and funny as well. They provide entertainment and joy to the lives of the people they live with.

These are some obvious benefits of living with plants and pets. But you might be surprised to learn that the act of caring itself appears to have some benefits.

Other Focused Kindness

A 2021 Dutch study found that for study participants, ‘’other-focused kindness … led to improvements in the primary outcome mental well-being.’’ This appears to suggest that doing things for others improves our own wellness.

Although this study was not about pets or plants, the care we show them is a form of kindness. It’s possible that some of the benefits of being kind apply. 

There are numerous ways to practice kindness and care for others. Bringing pets and plants into your life are just two examples. They’re fairly accessible to many people, however, which can make them a great place to start.

Cultivating Connection Through Plant Care

We may not immediately think of plants when we think about caregiving and responsibility. However, plants can be an easy way to bring something into your life that depends on you. Plants rely on us to bring them resources and they reward us in several ways.

Engaging in gardening or indoor plant care provides a therapeutic outlet for stress relief and relaxation. The act of tending to plants may boost our health.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature and tending to plants can reduce cortisol levels and promote a sense of calm and well-being. 

Caring for house or office plants can be a way to bring the outdoors inside.

Nurturing plants seems to have objective health benefits. It also fosters a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. You see their growth and development over time. This may give you a sense of pride.

The Joy of Pet Companionship

Pets are perhaps a more obvious example of care and responsibility. Unlike a plant, pets interact. They appear to share love and affection with us. That kind of connection can bring a warmth that caring for plants typically does not.

The companionship of pets has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental health and overall wellness. Whether you have a cat, dog, or another furry friend, owning a pet can form a bond. This bond can bring emotional support, reduce loneliness, and increase happiness. 

Studies have also shown that interacting with animals can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels.

When it comes to dog ownership, some evidence shows that dog owners spend more time outside and may even get more physical activity than people without dogs.

Service Animals and Mental Health Support

Having any kind of pet can boost your well-being. If you have physical or mental health challenges, a service pet offers a unique type of support.

For people with mental health challenges can find their service pets invaluable. They provide comfort, help, and companionship like any pet. They are also a helper for the owner. This creates a special bond as well as offers practical assistance in the owner’s life.

Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that help their owners navigate daily life with greater ease and independence. They may have the ability to sense when a health episode is oncoming or be trained to protect or comfort owners during the acute onset of their condition.

From providing emotional support during panic attacks to guiding individuals with visual impairments, service animals shine.

Learn everything you need to know about service dogs for anxiety and other conditions here: 

Fostering Responsibility and Routine

Caring for living things, whether plants or pets, instills a sense of responsibility and routine in our lives. 

The daily tasks involved in feeding, watering, and grooming create a structured routine. Routines can promote feelings of stability and purpose. 

Additionally, the act of caring for others encourages empathy, compassion, and a sense of interconnectedness with the world around us.

Caregiving Can Cultivate Mindfulness and Presence

Engaging in caregiving activities encourages us to slow down, be present in the moment, and practice mindfulness

Watering plants, walking our pets, and spending time with pets are common caretaking activities. These actions invite us to connect with the here and now. They require some presence in the moment. Overall, slowing down and appreciating simple things can foster a sense of gratitude and appreciation.

Find Greater Wellness Through Care

Caring for living things is a powerful tool. It enhances wellness, mental health, and life quality. You may be tending to plants, enjoying pets, or benefiting from service animals. However you care for something, there are benefits available.

Caregiving fosters connection, purpose, and fulfillment. It brings joy, can foster pride, and establishes a routine.

Are you keen to embrace the joy of nurturing living things? If you’re able to bring a pet or plant into your home, the experience can have a profound impact on your well-being.