Academic pressures often contribute to heightened stress levels among students. That heightened stress can create huge obstacles to learning, studying, and succeeding in our courses. It’s a terrible cycle! Luckily there is a simple yet powerful solution to be found in the company of animals. Whether you’re a dog or a cat person, or perhaps something a bit less traditional, the impact of having a pet or regular contact with animals goes well beyond mere companionship. A quick cuddle or a walk with a furry friend or time spent with a scaly buddy or even a plant baby can serve as a potent stress buster, offering students a welcome respite from their demanding coursework.

The unconditional love and companionship provided by pets can be a crucial support system. In the sometimes isolating world of academia, a pet’s non-judgmental presence can alleviate feelings of loneliness and provide comfort during challenging times, creating a positive impact on mental well-being.

In the past, some academic libraries have brought in puppies during exam times to spend time with students and relieve a bit of stress. Here at Hopkins, events on the Beach have given students access to goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, and llamas!

Owning a pet can promote physical activity through walks and playtime. Regular exercise has been linked to improved cognitive function and heightened focus. For students, this can translate into better concentration during study sessions, potentially enhancing academic performance. Even if your pet isn’t one for cuddling or active play (I’m looking at you hermit crabs), feeding and caring for pets gives you a chance to step away from the stresses of life and rest your mind.

Many of our librarians have furry assistants of their own to help them out with their work.

My cat Penny

While not everyone can or wants to have a pet, alternatives such as volunteering at animal shelters or participating in therapy animal programs can provide similar benefits. There are plenty of alternative pets that can also fill a void for those who love them. These may include marimo (algae/moss balls), carnivorous plants, houseplants, or gardens.

Whether you’re an incoming freshman or preparing to defend your dissertation, college can be a stressful time of life. Looming deadlines, impending exams, and projects in various stages of completion, to say nothing of attempts to maintain a social life, can all add to the regular pressures of life resulting in what feels like an unbearable load. That stress can make everything we do feel burdensome and can steal the passion we feel for our studies. Amid academic challenges, the therapeutic influence of pets offers a holistic approach to well-being, potentially unlocking the key to both academic success and a more balanced student life.

If pets aren’t doing the trick for you or you need something different, please know that you are not alone in your feelings. If you or someone you know is having a hard time JHU has some wonderful resources for students to care for their mental health.

Please know how much we value you! We’re so happy to have you with us! Want to get coffee sometime?