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Your Surroundings Matter – Office Edition

As I mentioned in the article, Your Surroundings Matter, one of the easiest things for us to control is our environment, which is a good thing since our environment has a big impact on our mental health. While we have more control over our environment at home then we do at the office, we still do have some degree of control at work. Unfortunately, when we are in a public environment we need to operate within constraints put in place by other people. For example, one constraint that I need to work within at the office is that we cannot have anything plugged in other than our computers and phones. This constraint prevents me from keeping an electric relaxation fountain at my desk, which is one thing that I used to use to help me deal with stress at work.

Controlling your environment at work is much the same as it is at home; however, you are limited to things that respect other people’s space, rights and privacy and do not cause any disturbance. Admittedly, working in an office at a computer all day, provides me with options not available to someone who works on the sales floor in a retail environment; however, it is still possible to control things in a retail setting. I will talk about that later in this article.

The first thing to keep in mind, is you cannot control the people around you, that part of your environment is beyond your control. So you need to focus on the things you can control.

One of the most important things I can recommend is before you do anything, make sure your office allows you to do them. Some places are more lenient than others. If you are not sure, check first.

If you are like me and spend a lot of time at your desk and on a computer, then the best place to start is with your sense of sight. There are a few very simple things I do to appeal to my sense of sight. It is important to keep objects  that are calming, soothing and that reinforce positive thoughts in your line of sight. I keep a picture of my wife and I on the wall right in front of me, there is no way I can miss it. I also have a picture of my cat as the wall paper on my computer. Typically, I keep a souvenir from my honeymoon on top of one my computers. This way when I turn to talk to someone, I can see it out of the corner of my eye and it reminds me of positive experience. This helps during stressful conversations.

A few other things you can keep at your desk, flowers (fresh or silk), any form of positive recognition, a stuffed animal that reminds you of a loved pet. Anything positive and allowed.

The other main thing I use at work, is my sense of hearing. I always carry my iPod and headphones with me. This helps during the commute as well. When I am at my desk and not involved in a conversation, I keep my headphones in and listen to music that I find relaxing and/or enjoyable.  Some of the music I listen is ‘normal’ to most people, even if they do not like it. For example, music like Kansas, Blue Oyster Cult, Bon Jovi, Bob Seger, Styx, Will Smith, and so on, no one would question as ‘normal music’; however, some of the things on my iPod would make most people shake their head. The best examples of this type of music are my Marine and Army Cadence, both running and marching, and my WWE entrance themes.

Don’t have an iPod? Not a problem, if you have a computer at work and are allowed to you can do a few different things. First you can bring in CDs and play them in the CD drive. A second option is to find an internet radio station you like and listen to that. Finally, you  can always listen to stuff on YouTube.  Make sure you know your company’s policy on computer use first though.

Finally, you can find ways to control your sense of smell. Now, you need to remember, it cannot be something overpowering that will intrude on other people’s space. The fact that you are in a shared environment makes smell a more challenging sense to deal with at work. If you are allowed, fresh flowers are always nice to have. They appeal to both your sense of sight and your sense of smell. If you work in close quarters with other people, you may want to ask them if they have any allergies to flowers before you bring some in to the office. Making others miserable will not help your environment in the long run. If you cannot have fresh flowers, and some places do not allow them, you may want to look into some potpourri for your desk.

Now, I mentioned at the beginning of this article, that I would talk about handling your environment in a retail setting. Unfortunately, you are more limited in a retail setting, but you can still do things to help yourself. When you are in a retail setting, you need to redefine your environment. You need to redefine it to you since you always have control over your own body.

Two simple things you can do in this type of setting is to wear an article of clothing that you find comforting or that makes you feel better about yourself.  The other thing you can do, and it is something I do, is wear something like a necklace or another piece of jewelry that you can touch to help ground yourself when you feel stressed or upset. I have two different necklaces that I wear regularly. If you have a locker where you work, you can put up photos just like you would at home or the office.


Posted: January 21st, 2013 under Helpful Tips.

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