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How Owning a Pet Can Benefit You When Working Remotely

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Pets have been known to come with multiple health benefits for years, but recent studies have shown that owning a pet can improve mental health when you work remotely.

The past few years have redefined how people work and also how they look at mental health. And while it’s no secret that pets can contribute to your overall happiness, studies have shown that dogs can reduce stress, depression, anxiety and encourage exercise — all things that remote workers need help with.

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One of the main disadvantages of working remotely versus a traditional office environment is that employees often feel lonely and disconnected from the world. Having a pet has been shown to create positive feelings and raise the levels of feel-good brain chemicals, dopamine and oxytocin, all while improving your overall health.

Whether you are new at working from home or you’ve already been doing it for years, here are five ways owning a pet can help you boost your mental health and increase your productivity.

1. Pets can reduce the negative impact of work on mental health

Studies often show that people who work from home are often feeling worried and anxious due to increasing workloads and the feeling that they have to be on all the time. Moreover, most people have to juggle family responsibilities while working from home, which also takes up your mental health. 

Owning a pet has been shown to be beneficial when it comes to relieving workplace pressures, and 83% of the workers who have a pet agreed that their friend helps reduce their stress levels while improving their emotional well-being.

2. Pets can help you become more active

When you’re working from home, it is easy to fall into a pattern where you don’t leave your home for days at a time. A pet gives you a reason to go outside and enjoy some fresh air every day while also getting active for at least half an hour a day. 

According to a study published in BMC Public Healthdog owners walk on average 22 minutes more per day than people who don’t have a dog. Besides an increase in the number of exercise minutes per day, the same study showed that the exercise was done at a moderate pace, which means that dog owners tend to walk briskly and get their heart rates up.

With studies showing that moderate-intensity walking has the same benefits for your health as running when it comes to lowering your cholesterol, the risk of high blood pressure, and type II diabetes, it’s easy to see how having the dog can help you become more active when you work remotely.

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3. Pets can help you socialize

The lack of a social life is one of the main issues for most people who work remotely. Even though there are virtual meetings with team members, and you can go for coffee or lunch with friends (when there’s not a pandemic going on, that is), most remote employees find it difficult to maintain social relationships. 

Walking your dog can lead to conversations with other dog owners, helping you be less withdrawn and remain socially connected. Multiple studies have shown that people who have friendships and social relationships are mentally healthier, so a dog can help you achieve this easier.

4. Pets can provide you with the companionship you’re missing

While pets aren’t a replacement for human contact, they can often provide you with companionship, which is something that many people are missing these days. Loneliness has become an increasing problem among adults in recent years, and this has been accelerated by the transition to remote working.

With loneliness being linked to both physical and mental health concerns, it’s important to do something about it. This is especially vital for remote workers who live alone. Pets are great at making you feel connected, and they can also show gratitude and affection, which contributes to the feeling of companionship. 

Studies have shown that pet owners feel less lonely, with an analysis published in the Journal Aging and Mental Health showing that pet owners are 36% less likely to report loneliness than non-pet owners.

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5. Pets can improve your overall health

People who have pets experience many health benefits, and the pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or a cat. Studies have shown that even watching the fish in an aquarium can help lower your pulse rate and reduce muscle tension. 

Pet owners also have a lower blood pressure than people without pets, especially in stressful situations. Studies have shown that the blood pressure of people with borderline hypertension who adopted a dog declined significantly within five months.

Other health benefits of having a pet include lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Studies have also shown that heart attack patients who have pets typically survive longer than those who don’t.

Bottom Line

Pets can make remote workers more productive and boost their mental health, which is particularly important in the context of the global coronavirus pandemic and its lockdowns.

Having a pet means that you have to care for someone other than yourself and enjoy companionship even in the absence of human contact. Moreover, having a pet means that you need to have a routine, which is beneficial to mental health. Finally, having a dog can be a great way to remain active while working from home and even socialise with other dog owners when you’re going for a walk.

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