Anxiety is an all too common feature of our contemporary workspaces. For many of us, our offices — whether traditional or at home — can become sources of stress and depression. This is not just problematic for our productivity, but can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, and our family lives.
It’s a serious issue that requires frequent, careful consideration. There are certainly a variety of effective coping mechanisms for anxiety at work, and should these persist, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance. However, there are some simple yet effective alterations you can make to the working environment to ease the effects of stress and anxiety.
Most of us have had the experience of entering into a space and feeling inspired, relaxed, even renewed simply by the atmosphere present. This is often the result of smart design thinking, organizational savvy, and even just good color choices. We’ll take a look at a few methods you can use to make your workplace a calmer, mentally healthy space.
Most jobs have some element of pressure, but the organizational aspects of our work spaces have the ability to add or remove unnecessary additional stress. Think about it, when you enter your office — either at home or at a large company — and see your desk strewn with paperwork, how does that make you feel? By taking the time to adopt a clean, structured method of organization, we can create a more pleasant and productive environment.
Minimalism has been a feature of the design world since the early 20th century, and it can serve a useful function in the workplace. One of the primary aspects of minimalism is the limitation of unnecessary materialism, and your office organization can benefit from this approach. Spend time auditing everything that is in your office — what needs to be there, what function does it serve? Tidy or conceal excessive wires, dispose of old paperwork that you are unlikely to use again.
On the subject of paperwork, it’s also worth considering whether you are able to operate a paperless system. Discuss with clients and employers the possibility of moving all communications, invoices, and dockets toward electronic methods. Look into the practicality of scanning all essential paperwork, and storing in a well-organized shared cloud filing system, so that you can safely shred and dispose of the physical items.
Offices are often considered to be sterile, dull environments that aren’t particularly optimized to boost employee morale or inspire innovation. Even if you’re a freelancer, it can be challenging to create a stress free home working environment. Yet you can make huge improvements by injecting a little life into your environment.
Plants are a cost effective and aesthetically pleasing method to level up your workplace efficiency and help eliminate stress. Firstly, having a few well-placed potted plants around can greatly improve the air quality in your office. A study by Washington State University showed that houseplants reduce office dust by up to 20%, and they are also known to humidify air that has been dried out by air conditioning systems. Research undertaken at the University of Technology, Sydney, also shows that the presence of plants significantly reduces depression, anger, and fatigue.
Pets can also be a key method to reducing stress in your work environment. Animals are known to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, with emotional support animals becoming a familiar feature of our contemporary world. Unless you work from home, it may be the case that the practicality of this is limited to occasional “bring your pet to work days”. However, you can also incorporate the benefits of living things by diffusing essential oils with anti-stress aromatherapy qualities.
Office decoration can be a delicate balancing act. Busy patterns and vibrant artwork may prove to hamper your mindset just as much as the stereotypical sterile office environment. With a little concerted research, you can make decorative changes which keep you productive while maintaining a sense of calm.
Color is key. There is an entire psychological field dedicated to how colors can affect our mood and prompt certain types of behavior. As a result, great care should be taken when choosing the hues you paint your walls, the shades of your soft furnishings, even the plants you welcome into your space. Greens tend to promote harmony, calm, and restoration. Blues represent trust, logic, and efficiency. Do some research into color choices, and use them in appropriate areas for the intended effects.
If you work remotely, it can also be important to adopt decor that separates work life from home life. If you’re lucky enough to have a designated work space, take care to decorate it in a way that makes it markedly different from the rest of your home. This helps you create a healthy boundary between the two areas of your life. The result is you are less likely to bring the stresses of work into your time off, and equally provide a place in which work isn’t too disrupted by issues in your personal life.
The environment in which you work holds great potential to affect your state of mind. Whether it is too much clutter creating additional stress, or the colors on your walls inspiring a sense of peace. By taking care to audit and adjust your surroundings, you can create a working space which provides moments of calm which support your mental health and overall productivity.