A recent survey found that as many as 8 in 10 Americans are stressed out about their jobs. That means, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance your work is causing you stress.
But why is work so stressful? For a lot of people, just the idea of going to the office causes angst. In fact, as many as 78% of people get Sunday night anxiety about going to work on Monday.
The problem could be the office space itself. It could be that it’s too small, too cluttered, and too loud. These may sound like teensy office annoyances, but for many they can be the root cause of workplace stress. Studies have shown that your environment affects your mood and your health, so creating the a positive office environment might be the key to getting rid of some of your stress.
If your office space is stressing you out, try out these 5 ideas and see if you can’t transform your environment (and your mood) for the better:
1. Declutter your desk
You may have heard the old Einsteinism, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Proponents of this way of thinking will often tell you that people with messy desks are more creative. This may be true, but it’s good to remember that they’re not creative because of their messy desks, it’s just that creative people tend to be disorganized. Messy people also tend to be more stressed than they appear. Maybe that’s why, in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo says that “visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”
So organize your desk! How you do so is up to you—it’s the thought that counts. People with organized desks are often:
- Less likely to commit a crime
- Less likely to litter
- More likely to show generosity
- More likely to give to charity
These traits are all associated with happy, unstressed people.
2. Get organized online
No one likes working with a control freak, but maintaining a level of control in your life (and in your office) matters to your mental health. Even small degrees of control, especially in chaotic office environments, can make all the difference in lowering stress.
This is also true for digital spaces. Try to find a place for everything you use online and use software that helps you stay organized. This may sound obvious, but so many people function with disorganized file folders and inefficient routines. This will help you develop better digital habits that make things more streamlined in future.
In addition, organizing your day the night before (with calendars and blocks of time), can help you break things down into digestible chunks that are less intimidating.
You might even end up saving yourself a lot of time. The 40-hour work week is a relic. People are working an extra 7 hours a week on average, with nearly 1 in 5 working over 60 hours a week. A little more organization could go a long way towards a shorter work day.
3. Don’t rely on caffeine
Offices promote some very unhealthy behavior in Americans. Bad posture and bad vision are often the easiest to identify, but few people point out one of the greatest offenders: the coffee pot.
On average, Americans drink 3.1 cups of coffee a day. That’s quite a lot of caffeine. While we all need a burst of energy sometimes, but coffee might not be the best place to get it.
Studies show that caffeine from coffee lasts longer than we thought and can be a leading cause of compounding stress. So the more trips you make to the coffee machine, the more stress builds up inside.
It’s worth exploring options that keep your body and brain decluttered. If you’re suffering from a lack of energy, your problem might just be a lack of vitamin D.
4. Schedule out-of-office time
Taking breaks for your brain is good. When you take a break, you deactivate your brain. When you return, you activate it. This back and forth allows you to refocus your goals and not overthink anything.
Studies have also shown that people who give themselves time for a 30-minute walking break from work were generally more enthusiastic and relaxed while being less stressed.
And you shouldn’t just take small breaks, either—4 in 10 americans don’t take their full vacation time. This is a big mistake. Take your vacations. They’re good for you!
5. Find a quiet space
For focused, highly productive work—it’s best to find a quiet space to think. But that can be difficult when 70% of companies feature an open-floor plan. This can lead to a lot of stress, especially when there’s only 1 quiet, secluded space for every 12 employees.
In this digital age of hyper-productivity, we require quite, relaxed spaces without distractions to think and function. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of every quiet space you can around the office. Otherwise, the overwhelming white noise might just drown you out your thoughts.
But those spaces may not be in your office, or even in the same building. If that’s the case, you might think about taking “off-sites” once in awhile. A change of scenery can be the best way to boost your productivity.
Moving on, without stress
Your environment matters. Whether it’s a cluttered desk, a noisy office, or just antsy, caffeine-addicted coworkers that can’t stop watching YouTube videos, our office environment greatly impacts our work productivity.
The secret to staying decluttered and destressed is to recognize the impact that clutter and stress has on you, and to take positive steps to reduce that impact and live as healthy and stress-free a life as possible.