Spending more time at home can be a wonderful thing. If you’re now working remotely, you’ll probably have noticed that the commute is a doddle! However, being in the same room for long periods of time means you may experience a touch of cabin fever after a while.
Luckily, improving and changing your home office environment can be very straightforward. Don’t worry, we’re not talking feng shui – here are a few practical tips we’ve picked up!
Find your green fingers
For decades psychologists have studied the restorative and calming effects of viewing nature. Bringing nature into your home is a simple way of improving your home environment – it adds vibrant colour and purifys the air, and also reduces stress in your working day.
patchplants.com are a great port of call. They deliver a huge range of indoor and outdoor plants and pots straight to your door. All purchases come with clear advice on how to care for your plants, with the added bonus of free online lessons on how not to kill them! They also have online plant doctors available to support you at any time, just in case you do go awry.
What’s more, the plants at patch are given endearing names like ‘Chaz’ and ‘Rick’, Working from home feels a little less lonely when you’re sat next to your new office colleague, ‘Rick’ the corn plant!
Change your background noise
Listening to recordings of nature has been scientifically proven to reduce stress. Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) have found that playing ‘natural sounds’ positively affects the bodily systems that control the flight-or-fright and rest-digest nervous systems.
Once upon a time, you might have been hard pressed to find an album of natural ambience. That’s not the case today though – Spotify and YouTube are packed full of soothing natural recordings. From dense, noisy rainforests to the lapping waves of island beaches. Does anyone deliver Mojitos?
Feed the birds
Tuppence a bag! Don’t worry – we’re not going to tell you to hire Mary Poppins. However, it seems Julie Andrews really was on to something with that famous song. A 2017 Study by the University of Exeter found that people living in neighborhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress. Of course, this isn’t always easy in urban areas with limited outside space, but you can now buy urban friendly bird feeders and boxes. These can be attached to any window, so you can bring the birds to your office desk, no matter where you live. Some feeders even have a one-way mirror feature, so you can closely observe visiting birds without disturbing them – a lot of fun!
Declutter and organise
Not many of us enjoy cleaning, but having a good clear out can be refreshing and rewarding. As legendary declutterer Marie Kondo would advise – “does this item bring you joy?” Asking this question can help to rid your home of unnecessary items, and leave your rooms filled only with things that you love and need.
Understandably, not wanting to add to landfill is often a large part of why we keep hold of unwanted items. But, you can in fact get rid of your unwanted possessions without harming the environment. Things can be quickly listed for free on websites like freecycle.com for your local community to claim. Or you can arrange for covid-secure collections from charities such as the British Heart Foundation bhf.org.uk.
Handy new companies like Thrift.plus can take your unwanted clothes, shoes and accessories off your hands from your doorstep, then they sell and donate the profits to your chosen charity. They also keep you updated with your donations – it can be really rewarding knowing those trousers you never wore have found a new home, whilst raising money for charity!
Mix it up!
Have you ever considered moving your main room around? Having a layout refresh can help a room feel new again, which is a great release if you’re a little sick of seeing the same four walls. If you’re going to give it a try, a useful tip is to draw out a sketch first before moving any large furniture. Make sure you get that measuring tape out too – there’s nothing worse than heaving a sideboard about for no reason!
When planning your new layout, consider moving your working space next to a window, if it isn’t already. This is a great way to experience more daylight, which can improve your Vitamin D intake, and help you feel more energised. You could also sit yourself next to your new bird table!
If you can’t move your furniture around, new additions can help refresh a room in a similar way. For example, ordering a new photo frame of loved ones, or adding a bright sofa throw or table cloth can be simple, low-cost ways to improve the feel of a room.
Take a coffee break at the pyramids!
No matter how much you do to your home office, sometimes you just need to get away for a few minutes. So why not escape to another country?!
Google Arts & Culture is an amazing free platform that will whisk you away to virtual tours of famous landmarks and exhibitions, making you feel cultured without moving an inch. So the next time you take a coffee break, why not enjoy a walk around the Palace of Versailles, or take in a 360 view of the Orion Nebula? Be warned though, it’s all very distracting.