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Create an uplifting work space

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Decorate your office with natural and inspiring objects to stimulate the senses and increase happiness, energy, and productivity at work.

Imagine working in a space that is filled with natural light and nature, which comes with a sense of quiet but isn’t isolated from your workmates. It would make for a pretty uplifting environment, right? Unfortunately, many of us aren’t at liberty to create the ideal work space, and getting the job done in cramped cubicles is all too common. Furthermore, many highrise-filled urban landscapes are lacking in natural resources, so taking a breather in nature isn’t possible. If taking lunch at your desk (hopefully not dinner) is your regular routine, know that it this does nothing to enhance your work and your life.

Does your work environment work for you? If you’re puzzled by this question, scan your work space with new eyes and implement these tips to create an energizing and calming space to step into each day. Nature brings out the best in all of us. The more greenery around us, the better we feel, which is why we’re uplifted after a hike or beach walk. No time for this kind of break? Try bringing the colors of nature into your office. This may sound obvious, but I’ve worked with plenty of clients whose mood was positively impacted by simply changing the painting on the wall or bringing in reminders of the nature. A little Zen sand garden could be a fun mental break, a potted fern is a calming addition, and a few colorful succulents work wonders.

Keep a fragrance in your desk drawer that makes you happy. Really. Our olfactory sense plays a key role in our happiness. Grab a sample of a perfume you love, or maybe your husband’s or wife’s cologne. Does the scent of coconut remind you of your last vacation to Hawaii? Keep a little nearby for a quick mental escape.

Placing photos of loved ones on or near my desk makes me happy. Want another real pick-me-up? Create a mini-vision board: Post images of places you want to explore and visit, and pin photos of events or things you hope to have in your life. These can be valuable reminders of why we’re working the way we’re working; allowing us to connect to our purpose and our dreams. If you can play music in your environment, do it. Science shows that listening to soft instrumental music calms our nervous system and increases our productivity. Does everyone else in your office have a jar of M&Ms on their desks? You can be the smart one who keeps almonds or pumpkin seeds on hand. Protein wins out over sugar for keeping us alert and happy longer. Maybe you’ll start a trend and encourage a wellness challenge!

Adding natural light to your space eases depression and increases energy. If this isn’t an option, check the lighting around you to consider how it might be improved — too bright or too dim can strain your vision and drain your productivity. Incandescent lighting is more soothing than fluorescent so try new lights and see what sort of affect they have on you.

Move around. Bring a pair of walking shoes and keep them under your desk (in L.A. this is always a smart move) so you can get some fresh air at least once a day. This will lift your mood, clear your head, and increase your creativity and productivity. If getting outside isn’t feasible, you might find a staircase where you can do a little exercise, alone or with a co-worker. Getting your blood circulating will get your energy going too.

Is your office an icebox or a toaster? Bring a small heater or fan and keep it by your desk. Circulating the air will keep you in sync with the seasonal temps and create a feeling of freshness if you aren’t able to open a window. The white noise is soothing too.

Could you be the one who makes the biggest changes to improve the office atmosphere? If you notice that sagging morale or frequent illness keeps the group from getting things done, maybe it’s time for the powers that be to bring in a wellness program for the group. Corporate wellness and mindfulness programs are bringing happiness to workers everywhere these days. A little research and a well-timed proposal could make a real impact on you and everyone in your office.

Daisy Swan, author of Making Work Work: Secrets from a Career Coach’s Office, is a career and life coach and meditation teacher who helps people of all ages find the way of working and living that works for them. daisyswan.com

About Douglas Corbett

Doug Corbett is the Publisher of LA Yoga and Find Bliss Los Angeles Magazines.

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