Written By: Stacy Mosel, LMSW
Your pet was probably just as thrilled as you were when you first started working from home. But then the novelty wore off over time as you became planted at your desk with fewer opportunities to play and walk. We’re here to tell you that it’s time to rekindle the excitement, because spending more time playing with and caring for your pets throughout the workday may actually enhance your productivity, creativity and well-being. Curious how your furry friend can make you a better worker, help improve your ability to think creatively, and also boost your (and their) mental health?
We all know that sitting all day at a desk isn’t great for our health. If you’re struggling with a creative slump or to stay productive, get outdoors with your pet. If you don’t give your brain a break, you’re likely just going to keep cycling through the same thoughts and ideas — and that doesn’t lead to creative insights. Meanwhile, the simple act of getting outdoors and away from your desk has a proven ability to boost creativity by changing your scenery and giving you a fresh perspective.
But getting out with your pet has added benefits. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors with your pet for fresh air, moving around, can help improve productivity and creativity while also promoting well-being and mental health. This is due to the combined health benefits of the outdoors, physical activity and the companionship of your little buddy.
Although results of a study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine showed that just owning a dog was associated with a reduction in medical costs, a greater likelihood of surviving a heart attack, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and better emotional and psychological health, people who got outside to walk their dogs reported more benefits from physical activity and the social aspects of having an exercise companion.
Let’s face it, things haven’t exactly been easy over the past year. We’ve been feeling more stressed, less connected and generally anxious about the current state of affairs, and that doesn’t really make us feel at our creative and productive best.
But having a pet gives you an advantage because spending more time with your them during the day can help keep your stress levels on an even keel. A study by researchers at Washington State University showed that spending as little as 10 minutes a day with a dog or cat brought about significant decreases in cortisol, your body’s key stress hormone. Playtime, walks, grooming and even just petting your furry friend can help you feel instantly more relaxed and less stressed.
Sometimes, it’s hard enough to get out of bed in the morning, but keeping a routine is critical for staying motivated at work and keeping yourself mentally healthy. But that’s often easier said than done, which is — luckily — where your pet steps in. A study by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London showed that 4 out of 10 people reported their pets helped them stick to their routines during the lockdown. But that’s not all — in the same study, 58% of the participants said working from home with a pet has helped boost productivity and motivation. Knowing that you have to take care of, walk and play with your furry friend can help you maintain your routine when the going gets rough.
Our relationships with others are what makes life meaningful and want to contribute to the world around us. As the legendary Barbra Streisand pointed out, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” and we’d argue that pets are just as valuable when it comes to providing social benefits. In fact, research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows that pets can help beat the negative consequences of social isolation.
Everyone needs to feel connected to others, but since we’ve been working from home and limited in our social contact, our mental health has suffered the consequences. A report in the Harvard Health Letter points out that pets don’t just provide a sense of companionship and social support. They can also help you make new friendships (such as meeting fellow dog walkers in the park) — and the social benefits don’t only apply to dog owners — the report also showed similar perks for people who owned other kinds of pets, like cats, rabbits and snakes.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that having more playtime and walks during the day improves your pet’s mental health as well. A bored pet can turn into a mischievous or bummed out pet, and keeping your friend occupied with more quality time means you’re not the only one who’s happier. The RSPCA in England also explains that setting aside more time for play, walks and just being together is a perfect antidote if your pet seems anxious, sad or depressed.
So what are you waiting for? If you need an extra boost, now is the perfect time to take a break from your desk or get off the couch. Check out our unique eco-friendly probiotic grooming products and give your dog or cat a well-deserved bath, take your beloved friend for a walk outside, or head out for a good game of catch to see how much better you’ll both feel.
Stacy Mosel, LMSW, is a proud pet owner as well as a licensed social worker and psychotherapist. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she continued her studies at New York University, earning a master’s degree in social work in 2002. She writes in the fields of mental health and holistic wellness.