In the many years I have seen clients for psychotherapy and coaching in a physical building, I've consistently heard feedback that they felt immediately more peaceful upon walking into my waiting room. Creating a peaceful office space is an intentional process. I, myself, have been paying close attention to how I feel in different places and spaces and making a concerted effort to create a peaceful environment for myself and the people I live and work with.
Whether we realize it or not, we are sensory beings and before our intellectual, judging mind kicks in, our senses are already taking in the way a space feels as soon as we arrive. We are affected by everything in the environs around us. Here on the Be Well Blog this week I am going to give you 7 strategies for creating a peaceful office space. (There are some affiliate links in this article from which you may purchase items which will yield a small commission to me)
Creating a peaceful office space is an intentional process.
#1 Right Lighting
Soft, broad spectrum or natural lighting whenever possible is important as opposed to the harshness of fluorescent bulbs. Depending on what direction your office windows are facing, you'll want to bring in the natural light while being careful with intensely bright sunlight. A 2014 Journal of Consumer Psychology research study found that the more intense the lighting, the more intense the participants' emotions were. Softer lighting lends to softer mood and this is key to creating a peaceful office space.
Soft sheer curtains can allow light in without being too bright. Light bulbs in lamps that emulate natural light can be very effective. You might add some candlelight too. Turn off overhead lighting and opt for soft and natural. Salt Lamps are one of my favorite ways to bring in an element of peaceful lighting to my office space.
#2 Cue the Tunes to Soothe
Stanford University researchers (Symposium press release 2006) have said that "listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication." They noted that music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool. Harold Russell, Ph.D. said, ""If we ultimately speed up or slow down the brainwave activity, then it becomes much easier for the brain to shift its speed as needed."
Consider Native American or Celtic songs with a soothing slow sound or play lists often heard in spas. These days it's easy and inexpensive to have a blue-tooth speaker hidden in a corner connected to your wireless device playing Spotify or Pandora creating an immediately peaceful vibe in your office.
#3 Subtle Soft and Natural Scents
I've been utilizing essential oils since 1997. I like to keep it subtle and choose soft all natural scents in my office to which everyone who visits responds positively. Take a look at essential oil options and choose earthy scents from trees for grounding or a serenity blend proven to elicit a relaxation response. Research shows that what we sense with our nose travels more quickly to the brain than any of our other senses. Ensuring you have a pleasing aroma can be an essential part of creating a peaceful office space
#4 Calming Colors
Pale yellows that remind you of a vanilla or lemon custard or butter are calming colors that perfect for rooms that could use a little brightness while soft blues are calming, nurturing, and soothing color found to reduce stress and anxiety. Olive green, tan, and wood elements can be brought into your room or office to emulate the calming effects of a spa.
#5 Indoor Plants
Bring some of the outdoors indoors with beautiful potted plants. They will clean the air and lend to an environment that mimics Nature, lending to a soothing, nurturing experience in your office. Pot those plants with love in beautiful planters and place them strategically on window sills, atop book shelves and on your coffee table.
#6 Simple Minimalist Design
After having traveled and stayed in some of the most spa-like hotels and modern lodges the past few years, I've been noticing those that have very simple, minimalistic decor and soft fabrics are the most peace inducing. Cluttered surfaces can make a space feel chaotic. Keep it simple for the sake of serenity in your office space.
#7 Meditate in Your Space
From my own experience, I have noticed when people enter a space where someone has been meditating regularly, they seem to feel the benefits of the peaceful activity that has been observed there. Practice meditation regularly in the same spot. Get yourself a really good meditation cushion and set up a special space for your meditation practice. Approach meditation with reverence and respect and deepen your connection to your inner-self. Research shows meditation has many positive effects on the brain and mood.
Creating a peaceful office space will not only will be nurturing for your clients and other visitors but it also is a way of ensuring your own self care is in check.
Bedrosian, T. A., & Nelson, R. J. (2017). Timing of light exposure affects mood and brain circuits. Translational Psychiatry, 7(1), e1017–. http://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2016.262
Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2013, 681304. http://doi.org/10.1155/2013/681304
Thoma, M. V., La Marca, R., Brönnimann, R., Finkel, L., Ehlert, U., & Nater, U. M. (2013). The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response. PLoS ONE, 8(8), e70156. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070156
I have 3 Positive Actions for Success in Life & Business that I want to share with you.
If you have reached a point in your work and life that feels like you are on the brink of burnout or simply feeling dissatisfied with your life and relationships, these three steps are for you.
I guarantee if you practice these things described below you will feel and see a significant shift in the way you are experiencing your life and work.
1. Create Clarity on HOW and WHAT You Want to FEEL
When You Experience Success in Life and Business
By now, surely you are aware of the POWER of envisioning! You must be clear as to the way you want to feel in order for you to experience what you want for your life and business. SUCCESS is achieved when we FEEL a sense of fulfillment. In order to feel fulfilled you have to break this down into specific emotions and experiences you long for.
It is essential to see and feel very clearly in your mind's eye and in your body's sensations what you want your experience of your life and business to look and feel like. This process of embodied envisioning provides a clear target as well as a grounding process, ensuring you get and stay on track.
.Focusing on the embodied vision of what you DO want for your life and business is far more effective than bemoaning the lack in you are experiencing.
To make this practice concrete, I recommend creating a vision board with images and key words that describe how and what you want to feel in your life and business. Make this a daily ongoing process. Place your vision board where you can see it and meditate with it, adding to it and contemplating the feelings and sensations the images and words bring for you.
Another way to embody this envisioned way of being and feeling is to share it with colleagues, friends and family members whom you know will support you. Invite them to share in your vision and to encourage and support you.
2. Tune Into Your Inner Wisdom Every Day
Believe it or not, you actually have the greatest and wisest teacher right inside of your own being. It is all too common to ignore the whispers of wisdom this inner self conveys in exchange for the loud influences of doubt, worry and criticism.
It's essential to know and recognize that there is inner wisdom within you just waiting to guide you. And all you have to do is learn how to tune in and listen. This is the essence of a seated meditation practice. I strongly urge you to practice on a daily basis. I'm coming out with an 8 week guided course on seated meditation very soon. Meanwhile read this article to get you started.
Your inner wise self WANTS you to achieve success in life and business! Learn to tune in throughout your day but simply getting quiet and asking internally what is the best choice here and now. Then, you must trust what you feel from this inner guidance which will make your connection to your wise intuition all the stronger.
3. Create SOME Forward Movement Every Day
Toward Success in Life and Business
You don't need to achieve enormous things in a single bound. In fact, the idea of baby steps every day is really the true way to success in life and business. If you attempt to get it all done all at once you are guaranteeing a path to overwhelm and exhaustion. Creating some small movement toward your goals every day is definitely the preferred way to go.
Start by asking your wise inner self, "What can I do today that will move me a little closer toward this embodied envision of success in my life and business?" Allow for the answer to float up into your awareness and don't judge what comes. Trust it. Take those steps. Schedule it on your calendar and make sure it happens.
For example, last year I was in a car accident that caused a ruptured disc on my neck and another in my low back impairing my mobility. As a result, my body regained some excess weight and my ability to do the things I love to do was severely limited. I created a vision of restoring my body to perfect health and mobility and every day I make some forward movement. I go for a walk, I take a pilates class, I do physical therapy, I choose a nourishing meal. I'm getting stronger every day as a result.
Your momentum toward your goal will increase and you take small steps on a daily basis in that direction.
The RAIN mindfulness technique is one I have adapted from other versions and utilize with my therapy clients, my mentoring clients and my meditation students to help them with a practical way of dealing with intense interactions and situations.
So, let's take a look at how I identify the steps in the RAIN technique.
R = Recognize. Recognize the challenge or difficulty that is present.
A = Accept and Allow. This is the opposite of our typical reaction which is to resist the challenge or difficulty. Here we have recognized we have a difficult challenge here and we accept that it is right here in front of us.
I = Inquire and Investigate. Seek clarification and gather information rather than jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.
N = Neutral. Rather than fighting, resisting or fleeing the scene, you shift into neutral gear which is more easily achieved after completing the first three steps of the RAIN process.
I appreciate the acronym RAIN for this practice because there is an element of knowing and accepting that it will rain some days in life.
Sometimes the rain is a soothing, welcomed nourishing experience and sometimes it comes with a storm that can even be destructive.
Overall, when it rains our outdoor activities and plans may be necessarily altered and yet we find way to make the needed adjustments.
The RAIN mindfulness technique practice is incredibly valuable during times of turbulence whether in personal relationships or political unrest. Rather than reacting and contributing to polarization, this technique can help carve out a space for you to give consideration with use discernment as to how your most centered self wishes to respond.
The RAIN technique does not preclude action. Rather, this technique is a way of lining up your wise mind, your feeling heart and the spirit of your highest self in order to take action in the most effective way without causing harm to yourself or others.
To learn more about mindfulness and seated meditation view my tutorial video here.
In order to feel fulfilled and content in your life a regular practice of self love and care must be in place. In order to be able to love and serve others, we must first love and care for ourselves.
Here are 54 self care tips
- 1. Write "lunch break" on your calendar and take them.
- 2. Eat slowly. Chew and really taste your food. Don't eat on the run. Sit down and savor
- Take time between appointments to close your eyes and take 4 slow cycles of deep, full breaths.
- Upon waking in the morning, get up slowly, put your feet on the floor and take a few minutes to sit and be with the new day and your breath before jumping up.
- Drink 8 ounces of water each hour of your work day.
- Drink 8 ounces of warm lemon water upon waking each morning. It will help with digestion.
- Walk briskly for 15 minutes every day. Swing your arms. Look up at the sky and the tree-tops.
- Practice some gentle, simple yoga postures and stretches throughout the day. Take an intro yoga class.
- Avoid processed or "fast" food. Eat whole foods.
- Buy local and organic. Eat seasonally.
- Skip sugar and white flour.
- Consider giving up cocktail hour. If moderation is possible, no problem but be honest with yourself...
- Learn to say no. Take a moment to ask yourself if you really have the time and energy to do what you are being asked to do.
- Use that gym membership you have. Try a new class, go for a swim, join a basketball league.
- Take your shoes off and walk in the grass. Feel the earth beneath your feet.
- Find ways to laugh. Comedy radio or tv. Hang out with funny people. Seek the humor in all things.
- Build in slow down time so you can move from activity to activity or issue to issue with pauses in between.
- Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day reflect on what small or large parts of your life you can feel grateful.
- Snuggle with a furry baby. Animals help open our hearts. Take time to nurture and care for a pet or volunteer at the Humane Society. Loving an animal will open YOUR heart.
- Clean out a closet, a cabinet or a drawer each week. You'll feel lighter.
- Plant flowers near your door and notice them with a smile everytime you leave or come home.
- Plant an herb garden in your kitchen window. Cook with fresh herbs.
- Find out how to use essential oils in everyday life. Aromatherapy is good for mood and a natural replacement for many of the toxic cleaning products.
- Take care of your skin naturally with castile soap, baking soda, witch hazel and coconut oil. Save money and nurture your skin naturally.
- Set firm and loving boundaries with others. Respect your own time, space and emotions. Don't let others run all over you.
- Clean out the fridge monthly. Get rid of expired items and wash down the surfaces.
- Connect with people you care about. Reach out to people you haven't spoken to in a while and tell them how much you appreciate them. Loving others is a way of loving yourself.
- Keep indoor plants throughout your house and office and nurture them. In turn they will clean the air you breathe.
- Floss daily. So important but often neglected, this task will prevent painful, expensive dental issues down the road. Love your gums.
- When you hear someone speaking degrading, derogatory or deprecating things about others, stand up by pointing out the positive and the beauty. Shining light where there is darkness will expand your spirit.
- Learn to meditate and meditate daily. Just 10 minutes each day over the course of a year will transform you in wonderful ways.
- Listen to the audio version of the book Wherever You Go There You Are for free by Jon Kabbat-Zinn and do the little exercises after each chapter. It will change your life for the better.
- Have a good cry. Breathe into the sadness and breathe out the tension.
- Feel your angry feelings while walking briskly. Swing your arms. The bilateral stimulation of the body and brain helps even out the emotions in a healthy way.
- Go to counseling. Counseling is a place to process what you are unclear about and feel supported and often guided when you're lost.
- Connect with a spiritual practice. Regardless of religion or tradition, go within and connect to what you believe in.
- Give away clothing and items you no longer wear or use to a local shelter or charity. It will help you lighten your material load and provide for someone in need.
- Hire a life/wellness coach to help you get clear on specific goals, learn some new tools and skills and create accountability for yourself.
- Play with little children. Rediscover your inner child.
- Paint a room in your house or office. Bring in some color.
- Keep fresh-cut flowers in your space. It will remind you to appreciate the beauty and the delicacy of life now.
- Light a candle. It is a ritual that signifies a beginning, an opening, a special and/or sacred moment.
- Write love letters by hand to all the people you love.
- Write down your personal memoirs. Recount childhood memories honoring your past.
- Leave "white space" on your calendar for unprogrammed, unplanned, spontaneous experiences.
- Make pottery, paint on canvas, sketch, crochet... it's meditative and good for the soul to create...
- Go for walks in nature often. Connect with the trees, mountains, beach...
- Smile at yourself when you pass a mirror.
- Lie down in the grass and watch the clouds.
- Play soothing music in your car, office and home.
- Use soft lamplight and forgo flourescents.
- Hug 3 people every day. Feel the connection.
- Compliment yourself in your own mind as often as possible.
- Know that you are MORE than enough just the way you are.
Humans are wired to want, need, crave authentic connection. Yet, it it is sorely lacking in today's society. These hand-held devices are drawing everyone's focus down to a screen rather than having face-to-face connection. There is no arguing with the fact that we all need to look up from our phones and tablets and have a real eye-t0-eye conversation with the people around us.
And there is that pitfall of using social media to present some false front of the perfect life. That's an entirely additional article I will write another day.
But here's the thing... Social media is too often the baby thrown out with the bath water.
And I am on a mission to teach therapists, coaches, healers and other heart-based business owners that authentic relationships are the bedrock for good business as well as to encourage my clients to utilize this powerful tool in a way that enhances life.
How did I become an expert on this matter? By making bone-head mistakes along the way. Trial and error. Oh... how I have erred. I have made every mistake in the book and have learned along the way what to do and what not to do. So, now I'm sharing my tried and true conclusions.
Like any tool, it should be handled mindfully and utilized in very particular ways for optimal results. If the result we are seeking is real relationships, there are specific tips to heed.
Here are some potent DOs and DON'Ts :
- DON'T fall into to the social media time-suck. Set your timer and spend only a designated amount of time each morning and each evening on social media utilizing the following tips for how to efficiently utilize social media to connect with others.
- DO share, tag, and thank. Scroll through your feed (FB, Twitter, Instagram, Google+) and look for truly inspiring articles, memes, quotes posted by other people and click the share button, tag the person who originally posted thanking them.
- DON'T over-share others' content. Don't share more than 2 items within 30 minutes. Shoot for 4 - 6 shares over the course of a day max.
- DON'T over-share your personal stuff. Once/week share something from your personal life - a photo of your daughter receiving her award or a cute pic of you and your hubby celebrating an anniversary but don't over-do it. Your personal social media page/timeline/profile is not the place to document your deepest fears, your daily schedule, your every pondering.
- DO comment with sincerity, kindness and encouragement. Make a point to comment on posts made by others in your feed. Find something sincere and kind to say about what they have posted. If they are sharing they are having a hard time look for an encouraging word to offer.
- DON'T be saccharine-sweet. The goal here is for people to know you've read (heard and seen) what they are sharing and that you are interested and you care. Don't over-do the sentiment.
- DON'T stir the political pot. You know what they say about opinions? Everybody has one but not everyone wants to see yours. If the goal here is to enhance authentic connection, social media is not the place to share your political position unless you want to clean out your friends-n-followers list to only be people who agree with you. If you feel led from the depths of your soul to bravely post political, by all means go for it. But just understand you may get blocked by a few people.
- DO use private messaging. Private messaging people to follow up on something they posted to connect more personally can be a wonderful way to strike up a conversation 1:1. Keep it real, keep it brief and be helpful... maybe offer some support or just tell them how much you appreciate something they've done/offered.
- DON'T use private messaging to hound or push. Private messaging should be used judiciously and respectfully but never to push what you're selling or to bug people. Don't overuse it or you'll bug people.
- DON'T post to promote too often. This is a slippery slope. A sticky wicket. We want to be able to utilize social media to share with others the services, programs and products we have to offer and market our businesses but it must be done in a way that maintains the integrity of our relationships. Be very careful about only posting when you're promoting or you will turn off more people than you can count. I made this mistake earlier on. It was an innocent mistake but a mistake none-the-less. Let your friends promote your stuff and keep your social media interactions for authentic connection.
- DO allow social media to lead to voice to voice or face to face connection. Ultimately, authentic relationships must go beyond the keyboard and screen. Invite social media friends to give you a call, jump on Skype, meet for coffee. I have developed life-long friendships and very meaningful business relationships with people I've "met" on social media.
It stands to reason that as we grow professionally there is often an opportunity to grow personally. And as we grow in our personal lives, the shape of our professional work can often shift and change.
What happens when the two worlds run into each other?
You become friends with someone you have worked with professionally over the past year. In the beginning the friendship is sharing coffee together, commiserating over common frustrations, offering supportive insight to one another. You refer clients to one another for your respective business services. You feel excited because finally you have a friend who really understands who you are as a professional and you feel you can trust her. Prior to this your two worlds have been fairly separate.
Believing you have a new friend you can really trust, you let your professional persona relax. And so does she. You decide you can trust her and you share with her in confidence a struggle you've been having with a common colleague. You allow yourself to be vulnerable. She responds with support and you feel safe. You share more. Then it's her turn. You listen to her vent and provide supportive suggestions. This goes back and forth a few times.
Then the tide turns.
As you share more and more you begin to see aspects of each other that begin to feel a bit uncomfortable for both of you. You noticed some subtle raw edges in her comments and perhaps she sees the same in yours.
One day, when you were very busy with your clients, she blows up at you angrily accusing you of not being a real friend because you didn't respond to her texts as quickly as she needed or expected.
She then proceeds to accuse you of being insincere and tw0-faced.
You feel shocked and attacked. At this point you could allow yourself to angrily retaliate. You could explain the reason for not responding... but instead you decide to retreat. You walk away without saying anything in response because you are just shocked and confused.
The thing is, she comes from a family that yelled and screamed at one another as a normal course of working through things. For her this was normal between people who care about each other. For you it felt like nothing short of personal attack and in your world is not the way people who care about each other behave.
After a few days, you decide to reach out to discuss things calmly but it's too late. In her mind your retreat was an unforgivable insult and her part of this was just the way people who care about each other express themselves honestly.
The greater trouble here is that you and she are still colleagues. You have to find a way to grow from this and preserve your professional status.
You have stepped into an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. Here are some practical steps you can take in this scenario:
- Own your part of the conflict. Offer a sincere apology for your piece without any comments that are attacking or defensive. Don't expect her to respond as you hope. Just do it so you will know you have done all you can do.
- Leave some breathing room. Space and time are the great salve. Come back to it after you've both had a chance to sit with it.
- Be clear about the roles you and others play in your life. Too much cross-over between personal and professional is exactly what led you to this awkward situation as it is.
- Be discerning as to whom you share your dirty laundry. Everyone has dirty laundry so there is no need for shameful hiding rather be very selective. And maybe don't dump out the whole basket all at once.
- Ask yourself how this experience can help you expand in your ability to feel compassion for self and others. Try to see things from her perspective. Understand there is a root-reason for all behavior and look for the soft-spot.
- Find ways to support her professionally even if the personal friendship has been damaged.
- Be kind, polite and respectful no matter what. Even if you never discuss what happened and you never grab coffee together again, aim for opportunities to show her you are still a good person and a reliable professional.
- Avoid talking to others about what happened. The last thing you want as a professional is to be seen as a gossip. If you need to process aloud, find one long-trusted confidante, a therapist, a spiritual mentor or a private coach. Otherwise, zip the lip.
- Look for ways this experience can help you grow as a professional. Perhaps there is a silver lining of divine wisdom here that will lead you to develop a new program, training or write a great blog article.
- Take it to the meditation cushion. This is a golden opportunity for personal growth. Ask yourself what parts of yourself have been illuminated by this experience that you otherwise were overlooking. Practice introspection and personal responsibility minus self criticism and harsh judgment.
There is time and space to keep separate our professional and personal paths in life but there are times when they cross. As sticky as it might get, it is a wonderful opportunity for growth all the way around.