Those who know me well know that I’m a huge animal lover and animals form a massive part of my life. Research suggests that pets improve work-life balance, stress reduction, and employee productivity. So, wouldn’t we all be happier if we spent time with our pet during our working day?
A study by the Virginia Commonwealth University found that people who had their pets around during the average work day showed an 11% reduction in stress levels. Employees of pet-friendly businesses tend to work longer hours and have fewer absences too.
I’m so lucky that I get to work flexibly between office and home and even when in the office we are a ‘pet friendly’ environment. But even if you can’t have your pet with you all the time, stroking your pet when you’re able to increases levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decreases production of the stress hormone cortisol. As well as feeling less stressed, when we have our pets around we are more likely to take a break from our work, grabbing thirty minutes’ fresh air and a brisk walk, or even five minutes away from your laptop.
Struggling with anxiety? Spend some time with your pet. In this day and age we are constantly overwhelmed with information. Everything is available at your fingertips, you can receive emails on your watch, you can work at midnight from your bed, (we are not advocating this!). In this age of immediacy, we have seen a huge increase in anxiety, particularly among women, with workers struggling to take quality time away from work. Having a pet is the perfect remedy for this, caring for something else gives us self-worth, it makes us take time out for someone or something else. Did you know, for example, that the frequency of a cat’s purr falls within a very therapeutic sound range that loosens our nerves and makes us feel more at ease?
If we don’t take breaks at work, and we don’t have quality time away from our working environment, then our productivity dips. You might be surprised to learn that the average attention span for adults only ranges from 15 to 40 minutes?! Sometimes stepping away is what it takes to look at a problem with fresh eyes, or get back into gear on a particularly intense project.
We need to turn away from the age-old adage that workaholics are somehow achieving more, and view our performance in terms of productivity rather than hours spent glued to a desk. Proper breaks bring solid benefits to the workforce and what better way to do this by including a much-loved pet into your workday.
So go give your pets a hug and Happy National Pet Day