Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

As midterms approach, there is an undoubtedly heavy blanket of stress coating the students of West Chester University. The stretch to Thanksgiving break seems inevitably long and the semester’s end impossibly longer. What can we, as students, do to escape this rut that is the mid-semester funk? For some, their way of dealing with stress involves a change in diet or exercise. Some of us choose to escape our worries by taking days to ourselves, while others lean on the support of friends or family. However, there is one aspect of stress management that seems to be overlooked or simply seen as silly:  emotional support animals.

One part of my home life that I miss more than expected is my pets, and it seems that  my peers agree. I have had countless discussions with friends over missing our animals and how we wished they were here with us. On the rare occasion that I visit home, I feel a spike of happiness and energy after visiting with my pets.

An animal will never lecture you on your assignments or argue over the temperature of your dorm room. They will never judge you for crying, just lick your tears away or shove their fluff into your face. In the case of emotional support animals, I have heard people argue that there is no such thing. This is blatantly false. Emotional support animals have been proven to aid depression and calm their owner. Also, they are extremely helpful in the case of loneliness. College can be a stressful time for people, and some students may have a hard time finding their place. By connecting with animals, though, you are given unconditional love. For these reasons, as well as many others, I would highly recommend that students under stress find a way to spend time with animals.

One of my friends on campus has a registered emotional support animal living in her dorm, an adorable three-month-old kitten named Charlie. The other day when we were discussing him, she told me that she often has girls coming to her dorm and visiting the cat. As it turns out, many people say that their stress is immediately alleviated after spending time with the kitten. Am I inferring that everyone should smuggle a cat into their dorm? No. However, I do strongly suggest taking advantage of time with an emotional support animal if given the opportunity. You won’t regret it.

Do you think that spending time in the company of animals would greatly benefit your mental health? If you do not personally own an emotional support animal or know someone who does, have no fear! There are plenty of opportunities to connect with furry friends through West Chester University.

One great way to connect with animals while giving back is joining a club or service organization. Animal Behavior club as well as Hands Helping Paws give students a chance to work with animals while providing service to the surrounding community. If you are not quite sure whether you have time to join a new club during this mid-semester frenzy, I would strongly encourage you to visit the therapy dogs in the Sykes main lobby. I personally stopped by earlier in the month, and just spending a bit of time with them lifted my spirits. They’re the sweetest. Some upcoming dates in which the therapy dogs will be visiting include Oct. 16, Nov. 12 and Nov. 15.

In the case of stress, there are many ways that we can handle ourselves. Too often, it is easy to take out this stress in a way that is not beneficial. However, there is never a case when spending time with animals will work against us. When we take away our anxieties by giving attention to animals, we are not only benefiting ourselves, but them as well. It is a proven highway to happiness that is often overlooked, whether it’s volunteering with an animal support organization or stopping by Sykes to pet some puppies. At this point in the semester when we are looking to lift our spirits, I encourage you to look to the animals. There’s a reason they are referred to as man’s best friend.

Samantha Batty is a first-year student English writings major. SB908125@wcupa.edu

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