8 Ways to Reduce Stress & Increase Productivity While You Continue to Work From Home

The 2020 WFH trend is what many of us tech-savvy, self-motivated Gen Zers had been praying for. But for some of us, the unexpected transition of our safe space into a home office has left us feeling more stressed than we expected, with blurred work-life balance, extended working hours and overwhelming amounts of Zoom meetings. 

If you’re struggling to stay productive and manage stress while you work from home, consider refreshing your home office space to promote comfort, clarity and productivity throughout the workday. Here are eight tips to make it happen: 

1. Create a clean and clear thinking space

Working in a cluttered, chaotic environment can hinder your productivity and create stress. Create a clear thinking space that allows you to refocus your energy and thoughts as you tackle your tasks. Choose an area in your home that minimizes distractions and reduces the amount of clutter in your workspace. Give yourself a clear and open “thinking space,” where you can brainstorm and problem solve. You may just find the solution you’ve been looking to present in your next virtual team meeting.

woman working from home on laptop Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

2. Add plants or flowers

Plants and flowers have been proven to improve mental and emotional health, so add some foliage to your home office space to provide the oxygen and liveliness of the outdoors. Great options for desk plants are low-maintenance, air-purifying plants like bamboo, succulents, snake plants, ZZ plants and Pothos Ivy.

If you’re looking to improve your brainstorming sessions and creativity, decorate with a bright, colorful floral arrangement, because colorful flowers are known to elevate the energy of the room.

zz plant Photo by Pino Nguyen from Unsplash

3. Maximize natural lighting

Lighting plays an important role in setting the ambiance for any space, and natural light (produced by the sun) is ideal for working environments. Fluorescent lighting can be harsh and draining on your eyes, which can lead to migraines and eye strain. In contrast, dim and dull light can cause fatigue and decrease stimulation. Studies have shown that maximizing natural light in an office space can improve your productivity and energy, so try moving your desk near a window and open your blinds. (Extra bonus: Sunshine can increase your Vitamin D levels, which helps boost your immune system!)

Bristol working from home scene Photo by Mikey Harris from Unsplash

4. Create a tabletop zen garden for your desk

Elements in a zen garden represent balance, focus, tranquility and mindfulness, so why not recreate the calmness of an outdoor zen garden for your workspace? Create a tabletop zen garden for your desk using rocks, sand, shrubs and other symbolic household items. Include a small rake that can be used for daily meditation, as the raking of the sand is intended to mimic repetitive motions to improve focus. Creating a tabletop zen garden is a fun and relaxing craft that will bring beauty and relaxation to your space, while also distracting you from the stress of work. 

homemade zen garden Photo by Gripweed from Wikimedia distributed under a CC-BY-4.0 license

5. Light a candle or essential oil diffuser

Aromatherapy is a holistic way to improve your mind and body. Create a more relaxing atmosphere by stimulating your sense of smell with an aromatic candle or oil diffuser. Choose a fragrant essential oil with known healing properties such as lavender, orange, patchouli or peppermint. Peppermint oil is a great option to burn during work hours to improve productivity, because it's been shown to boost energy, promote concentration and stimulate clear thinking! 

aromatherapy Photo by Chris F by Pexels

6. Decorate with motivational artwork 

Decorate your home office with an inspirational poster, tapestry or statue. Consider artwork that includes your favorite mantra, or a photo of a natural landscape that makes you feel at peace. Abstract art is another great option for your office space, because it can stimulate creative thinking. These small, but powerful visuals are gentle reminders to motivate and encourage you throughout your workday, especially if you work in a creative role. 

gallery wall Photo by Jonny Caspari from Unsplash

7. Practice desk yoga or journaling

Spend a 15-minute break stimulating your mind and body at your desk. For a physical boost, practice deep breathing and desk yoga to help invigorate yourself between conference calls. You can practice yoga with your desk chair, or with a mat on the floor following a virtual yoga class. Another option for a mental escape is to take a moment to write your thoughts in a gratitude journal, or listen to a guided meditation track. Just be sure to set a timer to avoid losing track of time in your place of serenity.

desk stretch Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

8. Bring the office outdoors 

A change of scenery can help you refocus and recreate feelings of energy and creativity. If you use a laptop or tablet for work, spend some time sitting outdoors while you get your tasks done. Enjoy fresh air and sunlight from your patio, backyard or apartment balcony while you work. Spending time outdoors allows you to feel connected with your environment as you stimulate your senses with the sights, smells and sounds of the outdoors. Improve your outdoor sanctuary even more by adding plants or art from the previous tips. 

gray and black laptop sitting on the grass Photo by Picography from Pexels If you’re feeling the stress of working from home, it’s time to refresh your space, and revive your productivity, so you can crush it like the boss you are. Namaste productive! 🙏