The Health Benefits of Having Pets in Your Home Office
Those of us with a cat or dog know that our pets are like a member of the family. And, like the important members of your family, you just feel better with them around.
My chihuahua is never far from me when I’m on my laptop. As I’m writing this post, he laying on my outstretched legs. In the U.S., three out of every five homes have a pet. And these pets are more than just camaraderie—pets have been shown to have health benefits for humans.
Pets are Great Stress Reducers
A study by the University of Minnesota found that when people talked to other people, their blood pressure rose, but when they talked to animals, their blood pressure actually went down. Another study by the State University of New York at Buffalo showed that owning a pet has calming effects on a person who is reacting to psychological stress.
They gave 48 stockbrokers suffering from hypertension who hadn’t owned a pet in the past five years a antihypertensive drug. Half of the group was sent home with the drug, the other half with the drug and a dog or cat. Guess which group had a noticeably lower response to mental stress? You betcha’—the animal people.
Unlike people, pets don’t criticize your writing.
The life of a freelancer might not be exactly like working on Wall Street, but it’s still stressful. It’s also solitary. That’s why having a pet as a freelancer is so beneficial.
Unlike people, pets don’t criticize your writing. They don’t yell at you for working in your pajamas or nag you to do household chores because that’s where you work. In fact, aside from a purr, meow, or woof, they don’t make much noise at all—and it’s practically intelligible.
Pets Create a Positive Work Environment
You’ve probably heard that dogs create a playful work environment, that they help with the creative process, and help banish a negative mindset. The same can work for freelancers who work alone.
I work both in an office environment and in my home office. I don’t always bring Miles into the office with me, but when I do, it’s a good day. I keep a bed for Miles under my desk at work and that’s where he usually hangs out. When I need a break, either at work or at home, we head outside. When you stare at a computer screen for hours upon hours, there’s nothing like a wagging tail and a couple of big eyes to make you take a much needed break.
Need to come up with a genius idea? Play around with Fido and give your mind a break.
Have writers block? Take doggie out for a walk. Need to come up with a genius idea? Play around with Fido and give your mind a break. Feeling bad about a rejection letter? Dogs are ridiculously easy to make happy.
Giving your pet some TLC can make you feel better and boost your self confidence. Plus, they urge you to get out of your chair and exercise, which in turn boosts your serotonin levels.
Cats can be therapeutic, too. It’s easy to get lonely as a freelancer. You need quiet to write and you don’t have office mates to gossip with. In fact, nursing home residents have reported feeling less lonely when visited by a dog or a cat than when visited by people!
Tests have shown that a cats purr is at a frequency that lowers chemicals in the brain, which can be raised during stressful situations. And there’s something about the repetitiveness of petting a cat that is totally soothing.
Getting the Right Pet for You
A pet asks relatively little of you. and if you shop right, you can find the right breed of dog and temperament of cat to suit your freelancing lifestyle. A puppy requires more work initially on your part. A border collie requires a lot of exercise. Think about your daily routine, your living arrangement (a Saint Bernard isn’t going to be happy in a 500 square foot apartment in Manhattan), and your family’s wants and needs before getting a pet.
Miles not only keeps me company during the day, he makes me laugh and helps keep me grounded. When I get upset and frustrated over the little things, all I have to do is look down at him curled up in his dog bed, looking up at me with his big chihuahua eyes, to remind me that I work to live, not the other way around.
I’d love to hear about your pets in the comments below. Or any concerns you have if you’re considering getting one.