Workplace stress is more than just an annoyance – it is a real health hazard. Many of the most common diseases and chronic conditions are caused by stress, so reducing the amount of stress you feel at the office can have a big impact, not only on your emotional well being but your physical health as well.
You may not realize it, but the way you design, lay out and use your office can have a profound impact on the amount of stress you feel in your daily work life. While nothing can eliminate the burden your job places on you, there are some things you can do to make your office, and your work, less stressful.
- Put everything in its place – Spending hours hunting for an important file is enough to cause anyone’s stress level to spike. Reduce the stress you feel by putting everything in its place. Invest in some quality oak file cabinets to keep track of your important paper documents, and a desktop scanner to make electronic copies of all your vital information.
- Add some soft music – Ambient music can have a strong effect on your overall mood and your stress level. Choose a favorite classical CD and turn the volume down low. You will be surprised at how much relaxation your favorite music can bring.
- Use soft lighting – The fluorescent lighting used in many offices can cause significant glare, and that type of lighting can even trigger headaches in some people. Choose soft lighting instead, with a combination of overhead lighting and pole lamps for the corner of your office.
- Bring a touch of home – Surround yourself with familiar and comforting objects, including pictures of your loved ones, cherished snapshots from your latest vacation and your kids’ latest craft masterpieces. Bringing a touch of home into the office reminds you why you work so hard, and helps you feel less stressed.
- Banish clutter – Clutter is the enemy of efficiency, and an efficient office is a low stress office. Take the time to do a little spring cleaning in your office. Once the cleaning is done, it will be easier to find what you need, and that can reduce your stress level.
- Choose soothing colors for the office walls – The color of your office can have a profound impact on your mood, so if the budget allows, consider painting the office walls in soothing pastels instead of the harsh whites favored by many corporations.
- Add some artwork – Hanging a favorite painting in your office can provide inspiration as well as stress relief. Whether you choose a portrait of a business leader you admire or just a favorite seascape, you can reduce your stress while bringing charm and beauty to your office retreat.
- Let nature have free rein – Adding some natural elements to your office is the perfect way to relieve stress. Something as simple as a desktop waterfall, or as elaborate as a saltwater aquarium, can bring the beauty of nature into your office and reduce your stress level markedly.
- Comfortable designs – When choosing furniture for your office, be sure not to sacrifice comfort for style and beauty. It is important for your furniture to impress those who visit your office, especially if you are an executive. But it is even more important that your furniture be comfortable. After all, you will be spending long hours at your desk and in your chair, long after those important clients have departed.
- Consider ergonomics as well – Ergonomic designs take your body into account, and how each element in your office affects your comfort and your safety. Take these ergonomic concepts seriously, and build them into your office environment.
About the author: David Moore is the Managing Director of Office Retreat which specialises in on site office massage packages for companies based in London and the the U.K.