According to the New York Post, Jennifer Garner, Alias star and wife of Argo director Ben Affleck, visualizes her pet dogs to relieve anxiety. At a gala event at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan, Garner calmed her pre-speech fears by imagining the audience -- including Save the Children honorees Hillary Clinton and Caroline Kennedy -- as her own pet dogs, wagging their tails and waiting with excitement for the speech. The tip came from Garner and Affleck's daughter Violet, but it is supported by scientific research.
Sports medicine researchers at the US Air Force Academy point to the importance of mental preparation, including the use of visualization techniques, in performing at one's best in a triathlon. Visualization and focused attention have also been used to reduce or eliminate patients' desire for pain-reducing medication during childbirth and medical procedures; Danish researchers recently demonstrated a significant reduction in analgesic use during radiofrequency ablation of atrial fibrillation.
Pets have also been increasingly recognized as powerful anxiety reducers. In fact, not owning a pet is a significant predictor of mortality in heart attack survivors. Similarly, among lung transplant patients, pet ownership is associated with higher quality of life. Researchers in Chile point to the importance of pets in patient therapy and advocate for changes in medical care delivery to incorporate these valuable friends into patients' recovery processes.