The stress level in the United States has notched a few levels up since March 2020.
COVID-19. Politics. Racial injustice. Extreme weather. Housing prices. Jobs. Afghanistan.
The country’s blood pressure may be at an all-time high.
“I mean, it’s been something unexpected, unrealizable. I mean, you never imagined,” sighed Dr. Mike Moreno.
Moreno said he wasn’t immune to it.
“Yeah, I’m sad. I think angry is an appropriate word. Frustrated. Tired.”
The Kaiser Permanente Family Practice physician knows he’s not alone.
“I always tell people, ‘Respect your stress,’” he said. “I think respecting your stress, surveying your stress, ‘What’s avoidable?’ ‘What’s unavoidable?’ That’s really key.”
Moreno said his two long-haired Persian cats are key to his stress relief.
“My animals are there right when I walk in the door and it’s a presence that you can’t really explain,” he said. “There’s something magical about that.”
He said studies show a pet could be a prescription for stress relief.
“There is a ton, a ton of research out there that shows that the support and presence of animals and the benefits are endless, absolutely endless,” he said.
Moreno credited his two cats with helping him withstand his own stressful days.
“They came into my life and now I don’t know what I would do without them,” he smiled. “I had no idea what was coming down the road for me, the challenges, the pandemic, loss of life.”
He said his cats were an emotional crutch when he lost his mother and sister in the same year.
“These cats were there for me and I would give my life for these animals.”
Moreno recommended people consider adopting a pet if they work or live in stressful environments.
NBC is currently in the middle of Clear The Shelters 2021, a nationwide pet adoption drive with a mission to find as many forever homes as possible for shelter pets in need. To find a pet you can rescue from a San Diego-area shelter, check out NBC 7's Clear The Shelters 2021 Adoption Guide.