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5 Ways to De-Stress Your Desk
Whether you work from a luxe home office or spend hours in a cubicle alongside office drones- the space where we focus on our income producing activities should be a reflection of your personality as well as an inviting and comfortable space to spend your precious time.
Success at work colors the rest of life, and it’s important to foster a sense of safety and stability wherever possible at work in order to make space for our day-to-day challenges.
As a NYC real estate broker I deal with a lot of uncertainty as part of my job - everything from juggling the wants and needs of my clients looking to buy or sell who need me at any time of day or night, 11th hour “surprises” in deal making, and upstairs tubs flooding master bedroom suites.
Staying consistently on the top of my game is a process, not an event. And part of that process for me is putting time and attention into creating a space for myself in my office that is otherwise rather serene for when everything else is not quite so…
Here are a few ideas from my desk to yours that can help make your workspace more inviting:
1. Add a Fan to Create Air Flow
Still air - and even air that central air circulates - tends to get stale.
Humans didn’t evolve spending 8+ hours a day indoors, with climate control. On a very primal level, the silence of still air can evoke a sense of danger our caveman relatives might have had when predators frightened the birds from chirping.
The cool feel of the moving air and the white noise a fan produces take the edge off that anxious feeling of something being not quite right in the environment.
There are as many shapes and sizes of fans as there are places to put them, so it’s hard to suggest the “right” kind for your space. You’ll intuitively know what’s right for your space when you find it, and otherwise any fan is better than no fan at all.
2. Bring in Your Own Lighting
Even if your office has overhead lighting, and even if the overhead lighting is slightly overboard or outright harsh. Overheard fluorescent gives me a literal migraine! I temper the harsh lighting at work by placing a beautiful desk lamp wish PINK TINTED incandescent bulb- which miraculously neutralizes the effects of the overhead glare.
In the wintertime, and especially for anyone without a direct view of sunlight, I strongly recommend using a sun lamp to avoid the winter blues. This type of lamp emits a particular spectrum of light that mimics direct sunlight and is a must-have for anyone who spends the entire workday inside.
I’ve seen this particular model get rave reviews from someone who was otherwise a long-time sufferer or Seasonal Affective Disorder. After using this 20 minutes a day for less than a week last winter, he was already able to notice significantly higher energy, a better overall mood, and reduced anxiety as a direct result of exposure to this type of light.
3. B.Y.O.P. (Bring Your Own Plant)
And a live one at that!
Live plants have a certain energy they bring to any room. They bring their own colors, scents, and touch to your work environment and purify the air.
On a spiritual level, the act of caring for another living thing has a humanizing effect on us. It’s good karma.
Your plant isn’t concerned about your Fourth Quarter earnings. Your plant will listen all day (and all night if need be!) to your spiel about Q4 results, and whether they're good or bad, your plant will be better off for all the CO2!
In all seriousness, though, it’s often a simple, mindful act like watering a plant that can help “change the track” when stress levels are high. It’s a healthy way to channel the energy, and takes less time than a walk around the block.
There are a variety of plants to experiment with maintaining - anything from super-low-maintenance cacti to Bonsai trees that you can feed and prune into living works of art.
4. Interesting Objects to Hold While on the Phone
Anything from a cute stress ball for high tension moments to those little hanging balls “Newton’s Cradle” that you hit off one another during boring wait times. On my desk I have smooth polished river stones, quartz crystals, and a mammoth rubber band ball- all which are fun to play with and release stress while I’m being tortured by lawyers and mortgage brokers.
Whatever suits you for whatever purpose, it’s simply good form to channel the energy that time on the phone can stir inside of us.
5. Make Your Own Trail Mix
And also bring other healthy snacks, fruit, etc. to the office for when the hunger strikes! Keep them in a nice dish within arm’s reach.
This helps alleviate sometimes uncomfortable emotions that can arise at work, and also helps prevent uncomfortable emotions from arising in the first place when they’re the byproduct of basic hunger. Never let yourself be hungry at work.
Keeping healthy snacks around is also a great way to prevent trips to the vending machine or the corner store for something you may feel less-than-good about eating on a regular basis.
I suggest a visit to Gary Null’s Whole Foods (Link) on Broadway in the Upper West Side for their broad selection of bulk nuts and dried fruits. They are locally owned and operated, and it’s a pleasant shopping experience.
On this note, I also suggest having a nice bowl and utensils stowed away for when work calls for eating at your desk. It’s much more humanizing than plastic forks and styrofoam clamshells.
Do you have some favorite suggestions for making your workspace more humane? Be sure to follow me and @mention them to me on Instagram @MikeLubinNYC and on Twitter @MikeLubin
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