Picture this: you’ve just completed two parishioner visits in hospitals thirty minutes apart, you returned a phone call to the finance chair on the way back to the office, and you stopped by the craft store to pick up supplies for VBS. Your mind is full of thoughts for finishing the bulletin, and your arms are weighed down with shopping bags and your favorite coffee cup. You enter your office at the church (or parsonage) only to trip over a stack of books just inside the door and then to discover that there’s not a single surface for the craft supplies or even your coffee mug. Shoulders tense and head pounding, you brush some papers to the floor and dump the contents of your arms on the desk. You plop down in the folding chair and begin digging through the emails that arrived in your absence.
I’m feeling tense just imagining this scene, but I’ve been there. Office space can truly have an impact on your stress level- for good or bad. Wouldn’t it be nice if your office were a mini oasis where you could find solace on such a busy morning and instantly feel a sense of calm and relaxation?
- Declutter: Do what you can to remove clutter from visible surfaces (meQ has a great module on decluttering). This will cut down on frustration from things getting lost and will also make your office more visibly appealing. Once you’ve got your space a little more organized, commit to spending 5 minutes a day keeping it tidy.
- Lighting: Allow as much natural lighting in as possible; trim bushes or trees outside the window if necessary. If your office doesn’t have a window, bring in a couple of lamps for a warmer glow and a homier feel.
- Plants: Plants not only improve air and sound quality, but they also have been proven to lower stress and increase productivity.
- Inspiration: In addition to the family/friend pictures you probably already have on your desk, consider adding one or two photos from your latest vacation for a mental getaway. Hang artwork, tapestries, and/or Scripture on the wall, too. (Be careful about selecting images– seeing the Titanic every time you walk in your office might be sending you subliminal messages).
- Get comfortable: Ditch that hard, uncomfortable folding chair in favor of a chair that is ergonomic and adjustable; it may cost more, but it will make a huge difference in how you feel about being in your office (consider using your Spirited Life small grant).
- Aromatherapy: Scents can evoke strong memories or emotions; certain ones have also been shown to reduce stress. Candles, diffusers, and plug-ins can provide a subtle aroma. Lavender and chamomile are two good options for stress relief. See others here.
- Sound: Background noise can help calm and increase concentration. Try a white noise machine (or website), classical music, or water feature.
- Fun: Add a couple of toys, a stress ball, or Rubik’s Cube to your desk to pick up and play with when you’re feeling stressed or need a distraction. For a fun selection, check out this website.
How do you make your office space calming and inspiring?
(Images by flickr users notashamed and brianyeung, both via creative commons)