With Stress Awareness Month and National Pet Month starting on 1 April, we explore why having a pet can reduce stress and why you should consider getting one

How often do you find yourself stressed? Bookkeepers perform a vital economic function and are heavily relied upon as a trusted advisor by employers and clients. Client due diligence, VAT returns, payroll runs and tax returns are statutorily regulated and require high attention to detail and excellent time-management skills, so it’s not surprising that the pressure can build up and make you feel stressed. It is well known that things like exercise and relaxation can help with stress levels, but can pets also help? Globally adored, and the subject of internet memes and funny videos, can pets bring more than companionship and amusement?

According to the Independent, 83% of workers who own a pet say that their  furry friend helps reduce their ‘’stress levels and improve their emotional wellbeing.’’ So, how does this happen? According to HelpGuide, ‘’people with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets’’. HelpGuide also reports that ‘’playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine’’ which are chemicals that make us feel happy and relaxed. What this shows is that having a pet can potentially help you run your bookkeeping practice.

ICB’s Social Media and Digital Marketing Executive, Alex Clark, has noted that since moving out of his parent's house in Reading and moving to London, he has been missing his cat, Simba. ‘’Simba was great to spend time with, I found that taking a small break from work and stroking him was a joy and helped me throughout the day.’’

It’s not just having a pet that can help relieve stress. It is well known that taking a break from work in itself is a good way to stay relaxed. So, turning away from your computer and stroking your dog for a few minutes not only makes you feel happier but has the added benefit of giving your eyes and mind a rest.

ICB Co-Founders, Garry and June Carter expanded the ICB Team with a new pet dog called Berkley earlier this year.  The ICB community also seems to be overwhelmingly made up of ‘dog-people’. You can see Berkley meeting fellow ICB dogs on our heart-warming Woofer Wednesday episode of ICB TV. If you are one of the many ICB members who has a pet, you’ll probably have found yourself spending even more time with yours since lockdown began last year. In fact, pet ownership has soared throughout the pandemic, with a survey by Ipsos MORI revealing that nearly half of all Brits who currently own a pet got at least one new furry friend during lockdown – and 10% of British households currently without pets intend to get one in the next six months.

Of course, owning a pet is not easy. It can be expensive and time-consuming – not to mention that they can also smell a bit. But if you find that your bookkeeping career is becoming ever more stressful and you are considering getting a pet, or indeed another pet, you might be interested to know that it’s not just cats and dogs that can reduce a bookkeeper’s stress levels. According to HelpGuide, even having pet fish can help ‘’reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.’’

Why not discuss your next pet with fellow ICB members on the ICB Members Group, ICB Students Group, or on our forum? ICB bookkeepers are always happy to talk about their pets and help you in deciding whether you should get one. They know how great it is to be a pet-owning bookkeeper with some furry friends around!