Life is stressful enough without allowing the physical environment – air quality, lighting, noise, and other controllable factors – to intensify day-to-day stress. Especially in the Fall and Winter is where you experience less daylight and more mood swings.
The great thing about environmental stress is that in most cases we can control what is in our environment that is causing the stress. Take these five steps to eliminate environmental stressors that might cause stress and tension in your work and home life.
1. Increase your activities during natural light. Natural light elevates the mood and helps maintain a regular internal body “clock”. Especially during the fall and winter we experience a substantial decrease in natural daylight. If you’re indoors, try working next to a window and allow as much sunlight as possible to enter your space. If you work in an office without windows try buying a natural sunlight lamp. These lamps can help with Seasonal Affective Disorders as they provide a natural sunlight spectrum for health and well being. Prolonged exposure to artificial lighting in any setting can be an environmental stressor.
2. Ban tobacco smoke. Constant exposure to tobacco smoke and its toxins can be a persistent environmental stressor and lead to respiratory problems and other symptoms.
3. Evaluate your furniture arrangement. Arrange your furniture so that you don’t feel cramped. Remember you are more productive in a relaxed environment. Also, is your furniture arranged so that you inviting constant interruptions from visitors? If you can, move your furniture from the line of sight of potential visitors so that you can focus better, accomplish your goals, and decrease stress.
4. Frequently Change Your Ventilation or Air Filters. Your office or home is full of ingredients found in cleaning supplies, upholstery, carpeting, adhesives, and in chemicals. Devices such as copy machines, printers and computers all contribute to poor air quality. Combine that with working in an office building where you can’t open windows it makes the situation ten times worst for the occupants. In extreme cases, individuals may become physically ill from these pollutants, and even moderate doses can cause coughing, a scratchy, burning throat, and other symptoms.
If you are concerned about poor air quality in the office speak with the building maintenance crew and see how often they change the air filters. In most cases, if you explain in a friendly way why you are concerned they will make an extra effort to change at least the filter in your area. Also you can buy a personal air filtration kit at any appliance store to make your life easier. Open windows At home to allow air circulation. Also frequently change your home air filter.
5. “Bring the Green In.” This is a term my wife, Joy Fisher- Sykes, uses to say that natural colors make us more relaxed. Color has effect on your mood and energy level. It is generally agreed that blue and green are very relaxing colors. On a personal basis these might not be the colors that relax you. You decide on the amount of color you’re comfortable with and the shades that most appeal to you. For example, bright yellow would tend to irritate me it may work just fine for others because of its brightness. Experiment with colors that will work to minimize stress for you.
Remember, these are all environmental factor that you can change to work for you. Just recognize what works for you and take the first steps to decrease stress.