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Pet Positivity: How Owning a Pet Helps Your Health

Posted by on Apr 11, 2017 in Centura College, Community Connections, Health, Lifestyle

Pet Positivity: How Owning a Pet Helps Your Health

April 11th is National Pet Day and in honor of our loyal companions, Centura College gives insight to some of the health benefits of owning a pet.

Written by: Esperanza Poquiz Edited by: Jul DeGeus

Having a pet companion has more benefits than you can even imagine. They can give you pure joy just by the way they cock their head and look at you, or give you that rush of excitement when you return home from a long day at work or school, which in itself are all the benefits one might need. Sure, they are cute and fun to play with, but having a furry, feathery, and even scaly friend also comes with responsibility, which believe it or not, can still have a positive impact on your life. Being a pet parent can actually make your life, mentally, emotionally, and physically better. So, let’s break down some reasons on why having a pet can be enjoyable and beneficial:

Animals are known to show unconditional love, which can decrease depression. Becoming a pet parent can help combat the feelings of loneliness through companionship. I know what you’re thinking, pets are fun to have and all, but pets take a lot of work, and money, to keep them happy and healthy. What you may fail to realize is that even the tedious tasks that come with owning a pet can have great benefits for your mental health. Think about it, your pet relies on you for almost everything and thrives on having your love and attention. It’s always nice to feel wanted, let alone needed, and your pet’s dependency give you a sense of purpose you might otherwise be lacking because of depression. Knowing that you have someone relying on you to wake up every morning and take care of them is a great motivator for you to get up out of bed and get your day started. (1) 

Source: Pixabay

In addition to all the comforting benefits your pet may bring you, research has shown that having a pet can have a positive impact on your overall health. Owning a pet can lower your blood pressure, improve your immunity, and decrease the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have conducted studies on people who own pets. Their results have revealed that pet owners confirm signs in decreased cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels, all of which reduce the risk of heart attacks. (2) If someone has already faced one of these issues, owning a pet can speed up your recovery rate and have you back to taking care of yourself and pet companion in no time!

Source: Max Pixel

Owning a pet can improve your social skills by helping you meet new people. Your pet can serve as a conversation starter, enabling you to interact with more people who share a common interest.  Going for a walk or bringing your pup to the dog park or training class can put you in a situation where there are plenty of people willing to have conversations that involve you both gushing over your four legged friends. If big social settings aren’t your forte, but you love being out of the house, try going to pet friendly cafes. Dining with your furry friend is a rapidly growing fad these days and more cafes are starting to cater it. Owners can enjoy a quiet meal at their favorite restaurant without having to take a doggy bag home for your fur-baby bestie. Not a big dog person? If cats, birds, fish or reptiles are more your thing and you don’t usually take your pet out, don’t worry! You can still meet plenty of people online through social media with the same interests/pet as you from the comfort of your own home! (3)

Source: Pixabay

Don’t have a pet? No problem! Just by having interactions with someone else’s pet or meeting with therapy animals can decrease stress. Playing or petting an animal can increase oxytocin, the stress reducing hormone, and decrease cortisol, the hormone known to cause stress. Playing with an animal can promote levels of serotonin and dopamine, nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasant and soothing properties.(1)  If you suffer from stress anxiety, and you don’t want the responsibility of having a pet of your own, try volunteering at an animal shelter, or offer to pet sit. Not only will you be helping others, you will be able to relieve some of your stress in the process!

So there you have it, just a few of the many reasons why having a pet can be beneficial. The bond you create with your pet is something that can last you a lifetime, giving you memories that are irreplaceable. Not only can pets bring you joy and love to your life, they can also help save yours.

Source: Pixabay


  1. Davis, J. L. (2004). 5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets#3
  2. McCandless, S. G. (2012, August 22). No. 3: Stay Heart Healthy. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/no-3-stay-heart-healthy/
  3. Holland, E. (2017, February 13). 7 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.chopra.com/articles/7-health-benefits-of-owning-a-pet#sm.00080x16bxntf9c100m17enhork0y

World Health Day: Depression Awareness

Posted by on Apr 6, 2017 in Centura College, Health, Lifestyle

World Health Day: Depression Awareness

Written by: Esperanza Poquiz, Edited by: Jul DeGeus

On April 7, 1948, the World Health Organization’s Constitution took force; Their mission: “build a better, healthier future for people all over the world… [And to] direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations’ system”.1   A resource to help people combat diseases, the World Health Organization, or “WHO,” believes in assisting people of all ages to lead a long, healthy life. WHO has inspired many people across the world to help others in need, with more than 7,000 employees in 150 offices in multiple countries.1 In 1950, WHO began to celebrate their efforts by deeming April 7 World Health Day. Each year they choose a disease to champion and educate the public about.

This year’s World Health Day theme is depression, a disorder that affects many people of all ages. Depression is a common disorder that is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, affecting more than 3 million people in the United States each year. Depression can have an impact on your daily life, making everyday tasks harder to do. It may also have impacts on relationships with loved ones and friends, as well as hobbies and careers. Depression, if left untreated, can lead to fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and possibly suicide, which is the 2nd leading cause of death of 15-29 year olds.

What Depression Looks Like

There are many forms of depression; acknowledgement and awareness are key steps to helping yourself or a loved one cope with depression. Here are a few signs2:

  • Excessive sleep or difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased energy
  • Constant headaches, cramps , or digestive problems
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Difficulty in remembering or concentrating.

People who suffer from depression may not experience every symptom and symptom severity varies with each person. Recognizing and tracking these signs can help you and your physician to determine which treatment is best for you.

Clinical Treatment

Treatments come in various forms, each catered to the specific type of depression. Studies have shown that mild to moderate depression can be fought with types of therapy, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy– This takes a hands-on approach to changing patterns of thinking and behavior that contribute to depression.
  • Interpersonal therapy- Based on the idea that personal relationships are key to psychological problems, interpersonally therapy focuses on how your relationships with other people can impact your mood.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy– This focuses on the unconscious process that helps you understand how behavior and mood are affected by unresolved issues.
  • Phototherapy– Also known as light therapy, is the practice of sitting in a light box that permits either a dim or bright light for the prescribed time your doctor has given you.

Other forms of treatment for depression include medication, such as antidepressants, which control the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. If all other forms of medication have failed, brain stimulation therapy, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), may be an option. This treatment causes an electric charge that produces a controlled seizure. 3

Outside of Treatment: Lifestyle Changes

There are alternative ways to battle depression. Some cases of depression can be helped by exercising. Physical actives are shown to have many benefits like improving your mood through the release of endorphins. Performing a physical activity for 20 – 30 minutes a day can lead to better sleep, more energy, higher self-esteem, and less stress.

Owning a pet companion can also help with depression. Pets are known for showing unconditional love and can assist in defeating the sense of loneliness. Research shows that by owning a pet, it can lead to better sleep and health. Joining a social group can help as well.

Socialization has been known to assist in treating depression. Love to read? Join a book club! Or, kill two birds with one stone and get some exercise by joining a Zumba class. Schedule reoccurring meets with your friends or family members. Depression doesn’t have to be spent battling it alone, surround yourself with great people, or pets, and it could help you in more ways than you can imagine.

If you want to know more about depression and how you can get treated, consult your personal physician. If you are inspired to help others stay healthy, a great way to start that new journey is looking into the various health programs that we offer here at Centura College. If you feel that you may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, call: 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).



  1. World Health Organization. Who we are, what we do. (n.d.). Retrieved April 04, 2017, from http://www.who.int/about/en/
  2. The National Institute of Mental Health. (2016, October). Depression. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
  3. Goldberg, J., MD. (2016, May 07). Depression Overview Slideshow: Emotional Symptoms, Physical Signs, and More. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/depression/ss/slideshow-depression-overview

The Book Keeper: Centura Celebrates Librarians

Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 in Campus Connections, Centura College, Community Connections, Spotlight Feature

By: Jul DeGeus

Nothing makes those long days and nights of studying better than the sight of the reassuring, friendly face of a helpful librarian. Always there to find the book that is hiding on the top shelf or suggest the resource you need, school librarians are an imperative cog in the tinkerings of schools. In honor of National School Librarians Day on April 4th, we wanted to extend our gratitude to some of our very favorite librarians:

Centura Chesapeake

John Smith

“John Smith has been an employee at Centura Chesapeake since May of 1998. Mr. Smith is not only our Library Assistant but also one of our Accounting and Business teachers.  Found in either the classroom or library, he enjoys teaching students how to use the Library and Network Information Resources Network (LNIRN) and helping them find materials they need for research papers and presentations. With a flair for fun, Mr. Smith enjoys a good Library Scavenger Hunt. For one hunt, he even dressed up like the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz.  Thank you, Mr. Smith, for all the things you do, both big and small!”

-Centura Chesapeake Staff

Centura Columbia

Nicole Bryant

“Ms. Nicole Bryant is the librarian and the Penn Foster Facilitator at Centura Columbia. She is great at helping the students in the Learning Resource Center find all the materials that they need to aid them in their studies. We appreciate all that Ms. Bryant does for students and staff alike. Thank you!”

-Centura Columbia Staff

Centura Newport News

Ms. Ruffin

“Ms. Ruffin has been with Centura Newport News for quite some time!  She attended the campus as a student after she retired early as a cashier at Fort Eustis.  Ms. Ruffin graduated in July of 1995 from the Computer Administrative Specialist Program, and then began working for us in September of 1995.  She is a favorite around campus and loves her students who seek her out for her knowledge and assistance in both the library and in life!”

-Centura Newport News Staff

Centura Richmond

Towana Hatcher

“Towana Hatcher is Centura Richmond’s Learning Resource Center manager.  Mrs. Hatcher, formerly Ms. Kelly, has been working at Centura College for more than 19 years.  In addition to running the LRC, Mrs. Hatcher provides orientation and training for students and faculty.  She also works as the Practical Nursing Administrative Assistant. Thank you for all the hard work that you put into your job daily.”

-Centura Richmond Staff