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The Jungle Pets – The Benefits of Bringing Pets to the Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 29, 2016 in Thinking Positive

PetIf you work in an office that doesn’t allow pets on the premises, you probably envy friends working in atmospheres were pets are welcome. Management that does not allow pets in the workplace often cite mess, distraction and possible annoyance of clients as good reasons for their decision, yet those who actually work in the companionship pets will tell you that this is far from the case. Most well-behaved pooches are content to relax in a comfy bed by your desk, waiting patiently until the next walk. Moreover, most offices with pets will probably tell you that clients usually enjoy seeing and interacting with dogs when they do visit your office – very few (or none) will probably mention anything negative about their close encounter with the furry kind.

The benefits of bringing pets into the office far outweigh any hassles (such as having to take a short break every few hours to take them for a quick walk). Research has shown, for instance, that pets significantly reduce stress levels, so much so that they are being employed across the nation to help those suffering from conditions such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), ADHD and addiction. Indeed, some of these patients report that since spending more time in company of a dog, their anxiety and panic levels reduce dramatically, so much so that pets do away with the need to switch or increase any medication they are taking. Pets have been found to increase levels of feel-good hormone, oxytocin, thereby decreasing levels of stress hormone, cortisol.

Pets also help by encouraging a state of mindfulness – the latter is a buzzword in many recovery centres, and all it involves is ‘being in the here and now’; enjoying the present moment instead of allowing oneself to get stuck in the past or to worry about the future. Regret, guilt and panic are powerful triggers for a host of conditions, including anxiety and depression. Across the globe, millions of people are turning to mindful activities such as yoga and Tai-Chi, in an effort to battle stress and mental disease. Pets allow us to achieve a mindful state in a much quicker and more direct fashion, and nowhere is this more important than at work, when we need to keep our mind on the task at hand and on our ultimate goals. Having a pet in the office allows us to utilize our free moments between tasks in a positive manner, by interacting with our pets, enjoying a break without the need to escape from the present moment.

Dogs have been found to alter our autonomic body functions – this means that without even thinking about the effect they are having, we benefit greatly from the presence of a calm dog. Our blood pressure and respiration rate are decreased, as is our oxygen consumption and muscular tension. Interacting with pets has also been proven to release endorphins, which enhance brain functioning by improving our problem solving skills, stimulating our imagination and strengthening our communication skills with others. It is no wonder that some of the best managers are waking up to the positive effects that pets (particularly dogs) can have on the workplace – clearly, the office itself has plenty to gain from workers who are more alert and creative, thanks to the presence of pets.

Scientists at the American Heart Association have concluded that having a dog in particular can lower the risk of heart disease, thereby increasing our lifespan. People who have dogs have been found to live longer, and it isn’t only because they are forced to be more active and take their dogs for walks. Because having dogs lowers blood pressure and stress, they are more likely to be less vulnerable to the effects stress can have on their health, and be more likely to survive a heart attack. One study, carried out in 2001, observed a group of people with high blood pressure and high stress jobs who committed to adopting a dog or cat. Six months down the line, their blood pressure lowered significantly when they were stressed, compared to those who did not adopt a dog or cat. Another study followed 369 people with heart disease, to see the effects pets could have on their condition. One year later, those who owned a dog where four times more likely to still be alive.

It could be argued that dogs are not only beneficial to a workplace, they are actually necessary owing to the many effects they can bring to the health not only of their owners, but rather, to everyone in an office. Stress busting, mindfulness inducing, heart healthy dogs should be part and parcel of every work environment that values the mental and physical health of its workers

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Matthews.

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The Long Trek – Navigating The Concrete Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 20, 2012 in Thinking Positive

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If you live near a big city, chances are that you have to commute there several days a week alongside thousands of your fellow workforce members. You might make the ride into town for your office job, or maybe you’re commuting to a nearby college campus to take the classes necessary to complete your degree. Either way, you are in the car for the long haul, and there’s not much you can do to get around that simple fact.

Many people have a tidy commute of half an hour or less (extremely tidy in heavy traffic areas), but some poor folks have to drive over an hour and a half to get to their destination. If that’s the case for you, consider these four tips to help you go through your day without stressing about your travel time.

Audiobooks and podcasts

I don’t know about you, but I can’t listen to more than a few minutes of most of the radio stations in my city. When I’m stuck in traffic trying to get to my destination, I much prefer listening to an educational podcast or an audiobook version of the latest novel I’m reading to help me get by. If I have to sit in my car for nearly an hour, I might as well stimulate my brain with some thought provoking material to make the ride more worthwhile.

There’s a wealth of podcasts and audiobooks out there that cater to every interest and niche. The industrious college student can listen to scholarly podcasts on their favorite subject, while the office employee can choose innumerable “Did you know?” style podcasts on topics ranging from history to pop science.

Carpooling

Some people enjoy their solitude during a long commute, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who wish for company in the car. Have you ever considered how many people you’ve seen on the road driving alone but with their ear glued to their cellphone? They’re probably just trying to kill time the best way they know how.

Carpooling is the economic and environmental way to socialize during your commute. If you have a classmate or coworker who shares the same route, why not pick them up or alternate driving schedules so you have some company? If anything, it’ll help you and your friend save on gas money by splitting the difference.

Plan alternate routes

How often have you seen a car peel off from the congested highway to take a side street you wish you had thought to take? It happened to me all the time until I had the sense to plan out my commute the night before. I used all the navigation tools at my disposal (Google Maps) to plot out a route that shaved nearly fifteen minutes from my average commute. It was a process that took all of ten minutes, and it was totally worth it. You may have thought (like I did) that the major highway is always the best way to go, but there may be lesser-known routes that are speedier due to the enormous amount of jams that rush hours bring to the main road arteries.

Get comfortable

If there’s no way to significantly reduce the time of your commute, the best thing you can do is simply get as comfortable as you can during the ride. People turn their cars into a comfortable space in different ways.

You can make your sitting arrangement more bearable with ergonomic attachments meant to support your back and your neck. You can delay wearing your normal everyday shoes and put on comfortable slippers during your ride. Or you can simply bring a blanket and crank up the AC. Do whatever it takes to be more comfortable in your car, because the fact of the matter is that you’ll be in it for a while. Don’t get so comfortable that you risk dozing off, but you might as well enjoy the time!

What do you do to make your commute better in the concrete jungle?

The guest post was contributed by Katheryn Rivas. Katheryn is a freelance education writer and blogger. She loves to dabble in a variety of education topics, although her main interests include online learning and trends. She welcomes your comments at katherynrivas 87@gmail.com.

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The Jaguar – Online Tests and Survival of the Fittest

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 22, 2011 in Building Confidence, Interviewing Skills, Job Search

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Online tests are the jaguar of the jobs world, as they prey on the weak and devour the unprepared. But unfortunately they are the future of recruitment. With such a huge number of people competing for very little work, having the right skills to fit your ideal role is more important than ever. We’re in a drought and the competition is tough, but to survive online tests you just need to follow these simple rules:

Stay Focused

This is the first thing to remember when taking online tests as any lack of concentration will cause you to make mistakes. It’s understandable to be nervous, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get through to the next stage as this will only distract you. In a stressful situation you may react differently and answer questions in a different way than you would if you were in a calm environment. To optimize your chances of surviving online tests choose a quiet place where you feel comfortable and eat beforehand to make sure you have plenty of energy. This will help you maintain control and stay calm. Deep breathing will also help if you’re feeling especially anxious, and don’t think about your competition!

Pace Yourself

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during online tests is to rush. Jobseekers tend to think they’ll run out of time and get caught out but take your time and read the questions slowly and thoroughly. This will help you digest the information and understand the questions being asked. One thing you can do to ensure you pace yourself is to read the questions out loud, or if you prefer to stay quiet write down the questions on a notepad to make sure you really think about what is being said.

Don’t Be Careless

This is linked to you pacing yourself, as spending time to thoroughly check your answers will ensure you don’t make any careless mistakes. Don’t rely on the online tests to warn you of incorrect spellings. Check a dictionary. If you do make mistakes, an employer may think you don’t pay close attention to details, and if the competition is fierce this could be your downfall. Make sure you read through your answers carefully, paying close attention to each word. Rereading sentences as you type them can also help with spellings.

Don’t Stray From the Rules

Often jobseekers get so caught up in the content of their answers that they forget about the correct rules of grammar. This could end your dreams of securing your ideal job, as employers are looking for reasons to narrow down applicants. Employers are looking for good, reliable writers who they can trust to send out written information on their behalf. To stick to the grammar rules and avoid mistakes, write straightforward sentences. Don’t overcomplicate your writing and reread each sentence to check for mistakes. Be specifically aware of any capitalization errors, missing punctuation, sentence fragments and sentence run-ons.

Follow Your Instincts

Another common mistake jobseekers make is to make assumptions about what the employer wants to hear. To survive online tests you must concentrate on what you think is the right answer, not what you think they want. Don’t be afraid to follow your gut instinct. Some jobseekers start to doubt their own ability and try to think from the employer’s perspective. But this leads to answering the question dishonestly, and above all else you need to stay true to yourself. After all, if you don’t get the job then perhaps the company wasn’t right for you. Nobody wants to get a job for the wrong reasons!

So those are the rules. If you follow these you’ll have more chance of surviving online tests and getting that perfect job.

This guest post is contributed by Sarah Leeds.

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