Bringing Zen to the Office: Creating an Office Space That Lends Itself to Easing Stress & Tension

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Here are some ideas for things you can do today to create a more zen workspace. Get ready to focus and maintain mindfulness.

We’re constantly working. The average American worked 34.40 hours in 2014. Mexico beat the United States coming in as the country that worked the most hours per week, a total of 42.85, according to Fortune.

No wonder workplace stress is on the rise; USA Today reported it has increased 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men from 1983 to 2009.

Did you know your work environment could be increasing your stress?

Organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments, according to The New Yorker.

He discovered that while open offices “fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking and satisfaction.”

Then there’s the noise; side conversations and business babble. And we haven’t even gotten started with factoring in the tension from deadlines and dealing with difficult clients or co-workers.

Related Article: The Art of Focus: 10 Zen-Based Habits To Motivate You

Between it all, utilizing the power of mindfulness to achieve peace in business can sure be difficult. What are we supposed to do? Challenge our inner Zen Master to help ease some of that stress and tension. Here’s how.

Invest in a Heated Footrest

I’m short and often cold so a heated footrest only made sense. I found that in addition to keeping me physically comfortable, it keeps me mentally comfortable. They are inexpensive; I spent less than $50 on mine. 

Decorate with a Plant or Two

In a Psychology Today article, clinical psychologist Jonathan Kaplan, Ph.D. wrote, “Having plants, going for a walk in the park, or even looking at a landscape photo could produce psychological benefits, reduce stress, and improve concentration.”

He ended his article noting, “If you’re feeling stressed or inefficient at work, get a plant.” The following are low maintenance and help clean the air.

  • Snake plant
  • Bamboo plant
  • Spider plant
  • Cactus
  • Pothos

Embrace Natural Light

One study found that workers in environments without windows had poorer overall sleep quality. The conclusion? “Architectural design of office environments should place more emphasis on sufficient daylight exposure.”

In many cases, letting the light shine through is not always possible. If this is the case, try a sunlight lamp. I’m part of the statistic that does not have windows in her office. My sunlight lamp is the next best thing. I turn off the fluorescents and flip it on. 

Related Article: Zen Benefits: 5 Ways Meditation and Mindfulness Can Impact Your Career

Sip on Warm Tea Throughout the Day

You might be thinking, “No way, I’m a coffee drinker. I don’t do tea.” Just try it. Tea has been proven to improve heath and can be comforting.

Margaux J. Rathbun, a certified nutritional therapy practitioner told Shape that drinking tea is one-way to cope with stress an anxiety. She added, “Chamomile tea is a gentle relaxant that acts as a nerve tonic and a sleeping aid. If you experience a long day and can't seem to calm down, brew yourself a nice cup of chamomile tea with some added honey for a boost of nutrients.”

While Rathbun suggests drinking tea at night, I know people, myself included, who drink it throughout the day and find that it naturally eases tension.

Swap Out Your Bulky Furniture for Light and Airy Pieces

Clunky desks might be popular among certain industries such as law, but if you want to feel more Zen at work and have the luxury to do so, bring in new furniture that’s light and airy. I love these pieces by JP Office Workstations:

Get Rid of Clutter

It’s bad for your health. Peter Walsh, an organizational expert told Web MD that people associate clutter with feelings of suffocation. Only keep what is absolutely necessary on your desk. Organize everything else in a hidden place accordingly.

Here’s some food for thought: in that same article in which Peter Walsh was quoted, Cindy Glovinsky, MSW, a psychotherapist and professional organizer noted that one of her clients got her clutter under control then was able to get a better job. Clutter has an effect on us in our personal and professional life.

Create Sensory Experiences

Lavender, vanilla, cinnamon, fresh-cut grass, citrus, pumpkin, peppermint, and jasmine all have something in common; they can make a positive impact on your mood. Lavender is one of the most common and can easily be found in air fresheners or essential oils.

Related Article: 9 Daily Habits of Exceptional Entrepreneurs

Keep a Personal Item With You at All Times

What’s something you own that puts your mind at ease? Perhaps it’s a picture, a blanket, or a mug that your son got you for Father’s Day. Keep it with you when you’re at work. When you feel tension coming on, look at it, breathe in for three seconds then out for three seconds. Repeat. Think about what that personal item means to you and get positive energy flowing back into your space. 

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