Tips for a Healthy Office

We rarely think about decorating or enhancing our workplaces, but consider the amount of time you spend in your office. The following tips will help you create a healthy, inspirational workspace.

1) Choose an ergonomic office chair that supports your back and encourages good posture. Make sure your desk and keyboard are at comfortable heights to support your back as well.

2) Use a desk lamp to light your work area and if possible turn off any overhead fluorescent lights, which for some people can cause headaches, hyperactivity and irritability.

3) Create or find a place to relax—such as a comfortable sofa or chair where you can take a break or a place outside to sit or walk so you can enjoy the fresh air. Even closing the door and lying on the floor for 10 minutes can help you de-stress.

4) Place your desk in “Command Position.” In Feng Shui command Position, also known as the Power Position, is used to describe the place in a room where you have a view of both the door and window and have a solid wall behind your back. In this position you will feel the most protected and empowered. (It can be stressful not knowing if someone is approaching you from behind, and a strain on your body if you are continuously craning your neck to talk to an assistant behind you.) If you have to choose between a view of the door or window, choose the view of the door.

5) Open windows. A study by the EPA found that pollution inside a home could be two to five times higher than outside the home, even in large, industrialized cities. Opening windows creates a way for unhealthy fumes released from cleaning products, office equipment, carpets etc… to exit and fresh air to enter.

6) Create a peaceful environment. If you can paint your walls, choose a soft, peaceful color such as off-white rather than a bright white, which can be too harsh. If you want to energize the space with a stronger color, consider painting one wall. You may also wish to have a small table-top fountain. The sound of water is relaxing and can mask busy office or street noises. Bring in other elements of nature such as plants, pictures of plants, landscapes, seascapes, solid wood furnishings, terra-cotta pots, a bowl of seashells or stones.

7) Create a view. If you don’t have a view create one with artwork or photos. Select peaceful, relaxing artwork such as a sea or landscape. Or place pictures from your last vacation on your desk.

8 ) Buy a plant. In addition to being beautiful and reminding us of nature, plants may also clean the air we breathe. According to scientist Dr. B.C Wolverton, author of How to Grow Fresh Air, some plants, such as peace lilies and Dracaena, may actually remove pollutants from the air. Some people also believe plants may reduce the harmful effects of electromagnetic fields that emanate from computers.

9) Keep it clean, organized and clutter free. Clutter and being disorganized makes us inefficient, causes stress and makes us feel like a failure. Not only is dust an irritant, but chemicals bind to dust making it that much more unhealthy. Keep the dust away with natural cleaning products. Encourage the office to make the switch, or keep a simple all purpose natural cleaner in your office and ask the cleaning staff to use it.

10) While studies regarding Electro Magnetic Fields are still undergoing research and as of yet inconclusive, it is best to take simple steps to minimize your exposure. EMFs levels are lower the farther you are from the source so try to locate electrical equipment such as your printer or fax at least three feet way. Also try to have your office equipment plugged into an outlet that is at least three feet away.

11) If you are redecorating, use a no-voc paint and choose solid wood furniture to reduce the amount of chemicals in your office.

12) Anchor your purpose. You will feel much more focused and your outlook will be more positive if your purpose is clear. If you love your job, create a mission statement or have objects, artwork, or reminders of your successes at work as well as future goals. If your job is not your “lifework” then place reminders of how your job still serves a higher purpose—for example a picture of your family reminding you that it helps support your family.

Photo Credit: Tamara Muth King