Building an affirming space during times of mental strain

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world. Entire countries shut down for months on end, economies were flipped on their heads, and people struggled to pay bills and stay calm as they sheltered in place and waited for some form of normalcy to return.

Then, a few months after the coronavirus scare began, the world was shaken once again by a wave of civil unrest that originated in the U.S. The death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota sparked waves of racially charged protests that left both America and the world reeling.

As businesses gradually begin to reopen and everyone slowly returns to work, there are many unpleasant, stressful, and upsetting thoughts that are weighing down on the collective consciousness. With so much fear and hate swirling, it’s important to consider the small ways that you can be an agent of peace and affirmation, often without needing to even say a word.

As you prepare to leave the comfort of your home and return to your office, here are some of the ways that you can help ease the collective mental strain by addressing your work environment.

Declutter Your Office Spaces

Disorganized clutter and chaos are well-known causes of stress. Operating in an environment that is messy, disheveled, and feels out of control can lead to similar feelings in your mind.

As you return to your office, you may find things quite a mess, especially if you shut things down in a hurry earlier in the year. You can go about strategically decluttering the mess:

  • Make an initial pass to identify the areas that require the most work such as “catch-all” areas or shared spaces.
  • Look for office items that aren’t needed such as an unused water cooler or stacks of papers that are waiting to be shredded.
  • Create a strategy to effectively clear the floors and desktops.
  • Discuss with your boss and coworkers about how you can work together to collectively declutter your space.
  • Make plans to readdress the clutter issue on a regular basis in order to avoid stress caused by future messes.

    If addressing the clutter of the entire office is too much to ask, you can at least apply these principles to your own workspace. If you can organize and declutter your workspace (individually or collectively), it can go a long way towards easing those stresses and strains.

Look to Feng Shui and Minimalism

As you go about setting up a more peaceful workspace, it’s helpful to look to tried and true methods for guidance.

Feng Shui, for example, is a popular philosophy that includes the principle of adding balance in order to increase the calm and serenity of space. This can be done through pairing items together, getting matching decorations, and making deliberate decorative choices that avoid clutter.

Minimalism is another popular philosophy that embraces calm and peace through finding purpose in your possessions. If an item on your desk or in your office doesn’t bring joy in some way or another — this can be via usefulness as well as entertainment or nostalgia — it shouldn’t be kept.

Both minimalism and Feng Shui are excellent options to help guide you through the decluttering process.

Add Some Essential Oils

Another way to create a calm, affirming space is through aromatherapy. Essential oils provide a gentle yet effective way to infuse your office with tranquillity.

There are many essential oils that work well in a professional space such as rosemary, lemongrass, and bergamot. All you need to do is get a diffuser, add water and a few drops of the essential oil of choice, turn the device on, and you’re all set.

Consider a Trendy, New Storage Option

Finally, if your office suffers from an excess of clutter that cannot be disposed of (think things like piles of documents, books, devices, or even coats on chairs), you can ameliorate the issue by getting a creative new storage unit to house some of the mess.

Lockers, for instance, are an inexpensive, trendy option that can be used for a plethora of different storage styles. A locker can be turned into anything from a coat rack to a console bar, all of which can help to bring a sense of order and peace to an anxious office space.

Building Positivity Through Your Environment

A refurbished locker or an essential oil diffuser is hardly going to solve any of the deeper issues that the world is currently facing. Nevertheless, each of the above items can have a small part in creating a peaceful, encouraging workspace.

If you can do this, you can set the tone for positive, affirming discussions to take place. You can encourage everyone to engage in conversation with an eye towards healing and forgiveness. It may seem insignificant, but an organized, decluttered workspace can be the deciding factor between a compassionate conversation and a defensive one, and that can make all of the difference.

This article originally appeared on YourCoffeeBreak.