Whether you work from home or the office, your desk can be a nerve-wracking place to be. Follow these tips to make your workspace—and possibly your whole workplace—less stressful for yourself and your coworkers or employees.
Buy an SAD lamp light therapy
SAD lamps are bright, white lightboxes designed to mimic the effects of sunlight. They are used for light therapy, which is a way of treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sleep disorders, and, sometimes, non-seasonal types of depression. If you tend to feel particularly tired, run-down, or apathetic during the winter months, you may well have seasonal affective disorder—according to some estimates, as many as a quarter of all Americans may suffer from some form of SAD. This means that even if you don’t have this condition, at least one of your employees, coworkers, roommates, or family members is likely to.
Buying a lightbox, however, might be a sensible investment in the wellbeing and productivity of your workforce, regardless of whether anyone in your work environment has SAD. Many believe that using a lightbox in the darker months can boost your productivity, help you sleep better, promote a healthy metabolism, and reduce the feeling of ‘cabin fever’ that many experience once the weather turns cold and dark. This is because exposing yourself to sunlight—albeit an artificial version of it—helps reset your circadian rhythm. Give it a try—it might have a much bigger effect on your stress levels than you anticipate.
Install a few mirrors
On the subject of light in ‘light therapy’, mirrors are a great way to increase the amount of light in your office and make the space look bigger than it actually is. While you might find it distracting having a mirror right in front of your desk, a few well-placed reflective surfaces, perhaps in the hallway or on the opposite wall to a window, will make your office feel less oppressive and constrictive. To brighten up the space even more, take advantage of some JCPenney coupons and buy a few colorful frames for your mirrors.
Wear a pair of blue light glasses
The increased use of computers and phones during the COVID-19 pandemic has alerted many to the dangers of blue light. Blue light is the type of light emitted by digital screens, and there is some evidence that exposure to it can cause eye strain, sleep problems, and retinal damage. As well as using a blue light filter on your devices, you should buy yourself a pair of blue light glasses—a special type of glasses with lenses designed to filter blue light out. If you already wear prescription glasses, make sure you ask your optician to add an anti-glare coating to your lenses, and then only use dedicated lens cleaning cloths to clean your glasses in order to preserve the coating for as long as possible. Avoiding headaches and insomnia will definitely be worth the added expense.
Invest in a white noise machine
Offices and homes can be extremely noisy environments, both due to the presence of other people inside the building and, unless you live in the middle of nowhere or in an incredibly well-insulated building, due to traffic noise and other acoustic pollution coming in from the street. Some studies have revealed the possibility that background noise increases stress levels and impairs the brain’s capacity to think clearly and retain information. There are also studies suggesting that this may successfully be countered by white noise—the sound obtained by combining all frequencies, which is used to mask other sounds. Some people believe that white noise is a more calming and less distracting acoustic background for the office than music, and listening to white noise may be linked to the release of anti-stress hormones. If you don’t want to spend money on an expensive white noise machine, you could also consider purchasing a white noise app on your phone and playing the sound through speakers.
Get some fidget toys
Finally, a great way to help you stay focused and to reduce your stress levels at the same time is to keep a few stress toys on your desk. These are particularly useful for neurodivergent people—such as those with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, autistic spectrum conditions, or developmental coordination disorder—but even if you are neurotypical, you may well find that having something to fiddle with helps your concentration and keeps your stress levels down. While there are countless ‘sensory toys’ and ‘fidget toys’ designed with the specific needs of some neurodivergent people in mind, you could also use more traditional toys such as yo-yos or sponge balls. Some people even like to run their hand through a bowl of paper clips—think of Michael from the Netflix show The Good Place! Just try a few options until you find one that works for you.
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