Many of us spend a big portion of each day sitting at a desk, focusing on a glowing screen (present company included). Our offices can become places associated with stress or deadlines, depending on the type of work we do. But considering how many waking hours are spent in them, I think it's worth it to invest in techniques that can help us find solace and self-care in our offices (and even improve our job performance).
I have a vial of lavender essential oil in my desk drawer that we brought back from Provence in April. Whenever I feel like I need to relax or reset, I put just a little bit on my wrists. (This past summer when work got crazy, I'd put some on a tiny desk fan pointed right at my face! It was constant lavender for like 15 minutes haha.) I also want to try peppermint for when I need an extra energy boost.
This is one of my personal favorites for disrupting anxious thoughts. It takes just a few minutes! There are lots of free printable coloring pages available on the Internet, and I've started coloring my way through a few books (like Secret Garden) gifted to me for my birthday or for Christmas. It's so soothing to fill in the intricate drawings. I sometimes even color a little bit when I get home at the end of the day, just to help unwind.
If you're a music person, pay attention to what you listen to when you're at work. For me, changing it up pretty often, even throughout the day, works well. I switch from Feist to NPR to Claude Debussy to Odesza. It feels like changing stations keeps my brain awake! And even though I have my own office, I often wear headphones when listening to music or talk radio. It helps me focus, and my introvert side likes it :)
Especially as the dark days of winter are in full swing, I'm trying to keep in mind my exposure to vitamin D. When it's warm enough, I've been having lunch on a bench outside of my office, and 30 minutes in the sunlight (even when it's colder) does wonders for my mood and mindset!
Even if you don't have a standing desk, there are plenty of ways to get on your feet during the day. Stretch while your cup of coffee is brewing. Opt for stand-up meetings. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Tilt your computer monitor, add a couple of books under your keyboard, and try standing while you work. If you find that you're into it, get your job to pay for a standing desk if possible. If that's not an option, try building your own (as usual, Pinterest abides).
Getting away from my desk every so often is so important to me being good at my job. (It's why I take a real lunch break instead of just eating in front of my monitor -- the whole 30 minutes. Even when I'm done eating, I read something non-work-related until my time is up.) Getting OUT allows my brain to reset. I come back with a fresh mind and new ideas, not to mention new energy and enthusiasm for whatever's on deck next. Other ways to take a break: Go for a walk while listening to a podcast; visit a friend in another cube or office or even building; go to the gym; sit outside.
Things you love
Katy gave me a beautiful Himalayan salt lamp for my birthday last fall. I thought it was very cool of course, but I've realized after having it on my desk for awhile, it makes me happy! I love the pink glow. Ditto for photo prints of my family, Kristie, Samson, and our travels; inspiring free printables I found online; and a giant black-and-white engineer print of a photo I took of our Provence apartment window. Having started this new job recently, I wanted to make sure I take time to settle into this office and make it a space I really enjoy. Considering we spend so much time in our offices (for better or worse), I think we should spend at least as much energy decorating them as we do our homes.
I'd love to hear: How do you take care of yourself during the workday? Let me know in the comments.
*This post contains affiliate links.