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9 Creative Ideas for a Relaxing Work Environment

Offices are not known for being holistic retreats.

Between annoying co-workers who provide minute-by-minute updates of their cats’ hairball problems and obnoxious clients who have asked you to redraft your proposal for the 83rd time, the typical office is less yoga studio and more wrestling ring.

Fortunately, there are ways to make your office more relaxing, without having to employ a full-time yogi or send everyone to an ashram for a year.

Here are some ideas for how to make work more peaceful:

1. Hold walking meetings
Who says the only place you can meet with your co-workers is in a conference room? Holding a walking meeting will get your heart pumping and your creative juices flowing. Not to mention, the fresh air will improve everyone’s spirits.
Photo courtesy of sangy23 on Flickr

2. Just add water
There’s a reason people love going to the beach and listening to waves crash: The sound of running water can be very soothing. And while you probably can’t get an office with an ocean view, you can have the sounds of a gurgling brook right on your desk with a tabletop fountain. Of course, we can’t guarantee that you won’t need an extra bathroom break or two.

metalwaterbottle_95683-13. Drink more H2O
Speaking of water, you’re probably not drinking enough of it. You can help your heart, increase your energy levels and get rid of those pesky afternoon headaches by simply drinking a little more water every day. Keep a water bottle at your desk as a reminder to drink more. At the very least, try subbing your 2 p.m. coffee break with water.

4. Stretch
Over time, sitting hunched in front of a computer all day can leave your body feeling achy and lethargic. Make sure to take breaks periodically throughout the day to stretch your back, arms, shoulders, hands and neck. Use that time to re-check your positioning in front of your computer. Avoid slouching or straining your eyes and wrists when using the computer. Make sure you have a chair that’s comfortable and supportive. Talk to a member of HR for tips on how to properly sit at your terminal.

5. Listen to classical music
Putting on a little Mozart or quiet instrumentals can not only help block out the noisy office din, but it can also help calm and inspire you. Research has shown that classical music can reduce everything from stress and anxiety to crime. Its positive affects on your psyche are sure to improve your productivity.
Photo courtesy of pallaea on Flickr
6. Get closer to nature
Access to things that remind you of the outdoors can help you stay calm when things get stressful at work. If you don’t get any natural light through a window, look for the next best thing: a lamp that imitates the full spectrum. Also, bring in a plant or two.

7. Take a breath
There’s a reason your mom told you to take a slow deep breath when you were really upset – she knew it would help calm you down. When you’re feeling stressed, or even if you just want to feel more relaxed, use the power of deep breathing. All that extra oxygen will do your heart good and keep your neurons firing.

8. Work from home
Goodbye two-hour commute and cave-like cubicle. Hello independence and a window office (finally!). Telecommuting or going into business for yourself can reduce some of the stress that comes with sharing workspace with a mixed bag of people, and give you more freedom to boot. Of course, if you’re easily distracted or worried about being lonely, this might not be the solution for you.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Levine Design on Flickr

9. Co-work
If you like the idea of being self-employed or of telecommuting, but don’t like the thought of sitting by yourself all day, co-working (sharing office space with other freelancers or telecommuters) might be a solution. It offers the comaraderie of an office, without the overbearing boss. You can have the best of both worlds – an office space with people around you to bounce ideas off of and the ability to set your own schedule.

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