Overcoming your own separation anxiety when going back to work

Schools are back, furlough schemes are changing and lockdown restrictions are easing — all of which means changes to our daily lives.

If you’re preparing to go back to the office after working from home, you might be feeling anxious about how this will affect you and your pets.

We previously shared some tips on helping your pet adjust to post-lockdown routines but owners may also experience separation anxiety as they spend more time away from home.

This is natural — after all, many of us have spent months enjoying the company of our four-legged friends and they have been a source of comfort and companionship in unsettled times.

In a recent article for the National Animal Welfare Trust, cat-owner and BACP-registered psychotherapist and counsellor Naz Altinok explained how owners can help themselves adjust:

1. Acknowledge your feelings

The pandemic has heightened all of our emotions, and it’s completely understandable to feel things deeply at this time. Acknowledge how you are feeling about the prospect of leaving your pet at home.

2. Don’t judge yourself harshly

Having anxiety about leaving your pet shows how connected you are to your animal. Accepting this can set you free from those unsettling emotions.

3. Don’t be overwhelmed by feelings of guilt

Naturally, you don’t want to feel you’re causing your pets trauma by leaving them at home. Think about your commitment, care and support for your pet and remember that you can only provide a high level of care if you also support your own wellbeing. This might mean going out more on your own to see friends and family, taking exercise, grabbing some fresh air and, of course, going back to work.

4. Plan ahead

Before your back-to-work day comes, plan which times you will be away and make arrangements for a pet sitter or dog walker. This will immediately make you feel more in control and prepared.

5. Rev up the routine

Having a routine makes us feel more in control and can reduce anxiety. Creating a positive goodbye routine — for example, by giving your pet their favourite snack — may help to reduce the negative associations of having to leave home.

6. Practise periods apart

Start by leaving the house for 10 minutes, then half an hour, then a couple of hours before building up to the length of time you usually are out at work.

7. Set boundaries

Try being separated from your pet in certain rooms of your home to help manage your separation anxiety.

Pets play an important role in our lives, so protect your furry friend with pet insurance from Purely Pets. We offer a range of policies for cats, dogs and multi-pet households, as well as a 24-hour Vet Helpline and an online policy management portal giving you greater flexibility in managing your policy and your time.