He may angrily smash foes with a hammer for a living as Thor, the Norse God of Thunder , but actor Chris Hemsworth says becoming a dad has helped him relax more at work.
The Australian, who has a 17-month-old baby girl , India Rose, with his Spanish actress wife, Elsa Pataky, thinks becoming a father  has made him a better actor. The ‘Thor: The Dark World’ star said in a recent interview: “It makes me much more relaxed with work. To be honest, because I have something that is far more important to me now - and that is the priority - I get to just enjoy the work for what it is.”
Dubai-based executive and father of two young children, Simon Martins can relate to the 30-year-old star’s new outlook.
“I think having children has made me more relaxed full stop. It changes your priorities and makes you more realistic. Things that once seemed so important, you can now see are not such a big deal. This certainly makes you work more effectively, which in turn improves your working life,” he says.
Matt Slater, the owner of media relations firm Seven Media and father of two young daughters says there’s no question that having children “focuses your mind”.
“Your time becomes a lot more precious when you have kids. I find myself working harder to make sure I have enough time to spend with the kids,” says Matt. “It also makes you realise that while work is very important, it is not the be all and end all. It makes you work smarter if anything.”
Funnily enough, even for a musclebound leading man like Hemsworth, the change in perspective might stem from a shift in hormones, says psychologist Devika Singh. “Fatherhood can bring on profound changes in a man’s life,” says Devika, a psychologist at the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre. “As suggested by recent research, males experience changes in their neurochemistry and hormonal profiles. Changes in testosterone and prolactin levels have been reported along with higher levels of vasopressin which contribute to the feeling of bonding.”
Devika says that the reduction in hormones such as testosterone has yet to be explained by scientists but it is believed to make men more mindful and risk averse in their work.
“Although we need more research in this area, it has been hypothesised that lowered testosterone levels contribute to less overall stress and anxiety which may actually improve decision making, overall commitment and satisfaction at work,” she adds. With the added responsibility for many men of providing for their family and dealing with the reduced sleep patterns that come with kids, not all UAE fathers have experienced Hemsworth’s new-found tranquility.
“When you have two boys (one aged eight years and one aged 15 months) life is pretty stressful. In a weird sort of way it’s nice to get to work and turn your mind off from the chaos at home so you can make progress with the day job,” says Dubai-based executive Scott. For Scott, keeping work and home separate is the key to success.
“The secret is when you get to work to compartmentalise ‘them’ for a few hours and then when it’s near home time to get excited about seeing the kids again.” Clare Smart is a personal development consultant at LifeWorks Dubai. She advises that whether you have found extra focus after the arrival of a new family member, or the pressure of providing is adding to work stress, it is important to still find ‘me’ time. “Be realistic in terms of what you can do after having a baby compared to what you could do before, but make sure you find time for yourself as well,” she says.
“Whether that is going to the gym or meeting your friends, still being able to do that - while perhaps not as much as before - is still important as it will help you to retain a sense of self,” adds Clare.
By Julian Pletts