Did you know that 76 percent of Americans say workplace stressors negatively impact their personal relationships? Or that 66 percent report losing sleep over work-related tensions? Even more shocking, 16 percent reported quitting a job because the stress became unbearable. What do these statistics show? We have a serious problem with stress in the workplace, one that’s getting worse. Since most of us aren’t in a position to quit working, we need to find ways to minimize our stress levels. One of the easiest ways to do this? By promoting a stress-free work environment.
Does the thought of getting your work desk organized make your cortisol levels spike further? Then, it’s time for a workspace makeover. And believe us, the temporary stress you feel will quickly subside into a sense of accomplishment.
Here are 14 tips to promote better working conditions and reduce stress.
1. Tame that Space
Have you ever walked into a disorganized colleague’s workspace and felt utterly overwhelmed? Perhaps you didn’t know where to sit or put down your pencil for fear of upsetting a pile of papers or files?
Maybe you’re feeling stressed out just thinking about it? There’s nothing more stress-inducing than clutter. And even if you think you’re a neat-freak, subtle piles of clutter can still upset your workplace mojo.
So, straighten up and remove the clutter. This includes everything from an oversupply of kitschy decorations to post-it notes lining your desk. Space is a beautiful thing that you need to embrace at work by de-cluttering.
2. Get Personal
Let’s face it. Whether you’re a standard employee or a freelancer, you spend a large amount of your day at work. If your workplace stresses you out or makes you feel disconnected, try adding personal touches to soften the place up.
From photographs to decorative accessories, inspiring artwork to books, these little touches will turn your workspace from sterile to stimulating. The items you add to your desk or cubicle should hold personal significance to produce the best results.
3. Green Up Your Space
Numerous studies point to the restorative power of open, green spaces. A simple walk in the woods or a park can lift your mood and improve your immune system. In fact, “Ecotherapy” proves one of the most effective ways to deal with stress.
So, why not green up your workspace with a few plants? Not only will integrating them into your environment look attractive, but they are shown to lower blood pressure, increase positive feelings, and reduce stress.
4. Take Mini Relaxation Sessions
Another positive way to combat stress? By incorporating relaxation exercises into your daily work routine. If you’re permitted to do so, play soft music while seated at your desk.
When you take breaks, make sure they’re active. That means enjoying a few moments to stretch at your desk or standing. Or, if the weather permits, head outside for a brisk walk and healthy dose of sunshine.
5. Feng Shui Your Office Space
Feng shui, or the ancient Chinese practice of placement, also provides ways to create a more harmonious and productive workspace.
Start by placing your desk in the power position so that you can see people entering your office. If you’re unable to do this, then add a mirror above your desk to see the entryway to your space.
You should also consider a desk shape and layout that fosters productivity. The best layout? An L-shaped desk or table setup with a swivel chair.
6. Color Makeover
Something as simple as changing the color scheme in your workspace could lead to ramped-up energy and a happier outlook. Choose colors wisely (where possible) to enhance your mood at work.
For example, neutral tones have a calming effect while yellows lead to increased energy and intellectual activity. Earth tones promote warmth and have a grounding vibe. Greens and blues create a sense of coolness and tranquility.
7. Change the Lighting in Your Workspace
Few factors prove more energy-sapping and stress-inducing than exposure to fluorescent light bulbs. They can harm your eyes, upset your natural biorhythms, and make you feel sick. Heck, they can even trigger a low-grade headache.
If possible, open up the windows in your office and let the sun’s rays light up your room. Change out your bulbs for those that mimic ambient lighting. You’ll be amazed by the impact these subtle changes have on your mood and vibe.
8. Create a Fun, Functional Corner
If possible, dedicate a corner of your workspace to creativity and innovation. This could be where you physically relocate for brainstorming sessions, to hold informal meetings with colleagues, or even to briefly unwind.
Fill the space with a couple of bean bag chairs, poufs, or ottomans in colors corresponding to their designated function. For example, green or blue for an office oasis. Or, yellow to get the creative juices flowing.
Along with an area rug, craft an instant conversation or chill space that’s both comfortable and unique.
Changing your physical location in a room can have a huge impact on what you’re thinking and feeling. So, make your designated quirky conversation or sacred relax zone a spot to reboot and leave behind the stresses of the day.
Check out these workspace bean bag concepts.
9. Silence Apps
Life in the Digital Age comes with numerous conveniences and even more distractions and interruptions. Like app notifications. These can throw off your train of thought, lead to issues with time management, and spike stress levels.
But this is an easy fix. Anytime you’re completing an urgent task, go into silent mode. This goes for chatrooms and your phone.
Avoid having multiple windows open to minimize distractions. That means closing all social media sites and applications that could interrupt what you’re doing. That way, you can drill down and complete the task at hand with full concentration.
10. Summarize What’s Important
Amid a busy day, it’s easy to lose track of what was said in a morning meeting or phone call. Even when you take notes.
But that doesn’t mean you should just give up or quit taking notes. Instead, you need to take a moment to write a quick summary based on those notes.
Do this for meetings, phone calls, and other detail-oriented communications. The same goes for training sessions and anything else where you need to retain a large amount of information.
Make sure you develop a way to organize your notes and summaries either on your laptop or printed out and filed away for easy access. Always opt for file names that are straightforward and easy to locate.
11. Use Checklists Regularly
Checklists are a fabulous tool that you need to take advantage of. Not only do they help you stay prioritized, focused, and more productive, but they also let you keep track of your accomplishments.
Use them to celebrate both small and big victories. Break up large problems into smaller, manageable pieces with checklists. In other words, use checklists to put projects in perspective while avoiding getting overwhelmed.
Checklists also keep you on task when interruptions happen. And let’s face it. They always do.
12. Schedule It
While checklists help you stay on track, using a calendar to create a schedule will take you to the next level. Why? Because it lets you organize the tasks you need to complete in a visual, linear format bounded by time constraints.
This will help you better understand your limitations and areas where tasks are taking longer than they should. In other words, a schedule lets you come to terms with how long it takes you to complete what you need to do.
That way, you can schedule accordingly and develop a better sense of time management over the long-term. You’ll gain a greater sense of control over your workday and how to optimize your productivity.
You’ll also develop a sense of the pitfalls that keep you from completing tasks in a timely manner.
13. Pencil in Breaks
With all of this productivity in mind, it can feel tempting to skimp when it comes to breaks. But, truth be told, the harder and more efficiently you work, the more you’re going to need breaks.
It’s worth breaking down what a break should look like a bit further. Some people make the mistake of thinking this should be the time you hop on social media, email, a chat, or a game to decompress.
But you need to physically get away from electronics and take a breather. Even if all you can spare are a couple of minutes to stand and stretch or walk around the room, you’ll feel the immediate difference.
This also represents a great time to hit the bean bag chair or ottoman and relax for a few minutes.
14. Think Posture
When it comes to desk posture, find what works for you. Some people swear by working at a standing desk while others want to work on a posture ball. There are also the merits of ergonomic chairs.
While the research varies greatly when it comes to which one’s best for posture and the spine, this also depends on the individual. Find what works for you and go with it.
This might even involve splitting the difference by having an adjustable stand that allows you to either work sitting down or standing.
Bring Intention and Peace to Your Work Environment
When it comes to improving the working environment, you’ve got a wide array of options to choose from. From de-cluttering to cutting out external stressors such as app notifications, you can take back your professional life and work environment.