In Canada, a third of the year is comprised of wintery months marked by minimal daylight and cold, dreary days. During this time, it’s common to suffer from monotonous days spent commuting to and from the office in the dark. If you notice the lack of sunlight causing weariness, moodiness, and negatively impacting your performance and overall wellbeing, you may be struggling with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression related to hormonal changes that occur with the change in seasons. A lack of sunlight can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm and lower serotonin levels, a chemical in the brain that regulates mood and energy levels. People who suffer from SAD often experience daytime fatigue, feelings of depression, a loss of interest in hobbies or social interactions, a change in appetite, or feelings of hopelessness that last for over two weeks.
One way to help improve mood and energy levels during the winter months is by promoting pet therapy at the office. Interacting with animals has been shown to promote the release of endorphins, a chemical released naturally in the brain that produces a calming effect and helps to reduce stress. In addition to alleviating workplace-related stress, pet therapy in the office can also help build comradery with colleagues, finding common ground to connect with others in a non-work-related manner. Now offered at most universities and hospitals, pet therapy is proven to encourage social interactions, reduce stress, increase engagement levels, and improve morale.
Love Your Pet Day on February 20 is the perfect opportunity to promote pet therapy at the office. Consider engaging the Toronto Humane Society and partnering with them on their Corporate Shelter Pets Program. The program involves the Toronto Humane Society coming into your office for a few hours with shelter pets, including anything from kittens and puppies to hamsters, allowing you to experience the benefits of pet therapy while giving back to the community.
Note: Be sure to check with your Landlord before bringing pets into the office, as some buildings have a strict no-pet policy.