Home offices have become essential over the last year for a significant percentage of the population. Whatever home office space you have can definitely contribute to better mental health.
One of the best accoutrements for your home office, especially if you share your home with kids, another working spouse, or needy pets, is a door. Being able to close the door for private conversations, noisy meetings, or just a minute to yourself, can be a stress reliever. Modern home offices with an office area but no door can install a trendy barn door for solitude with a sliding convenience. Not everyone has a door, of course, and where you don’t have a room that can be closed off, having a separate spot, even a corner of the bedroom or dining room, that you can walk away from after work, can be a sanity saver.
Even a simple curtain to divide your living space from your workspace can change the feel of both.
Second on my list is natural light which, admittedly, can be in short supply in the basement or a converted closet. Lighting affects your mood, and if you can increase access to natural light, your home office can be a productive spot and not just a place to work. Just opening the shades—or removing outdated window treatments altogether–and orienting your desk to face the window, instead of having your back to it, can not only boost your mood, but can make you look better on zoom. If you don’t have any windows, change out your lightbulbs to daylight spectrum bulbs and add a few shiny surfaces to throw light around.
Some people swear by standing desks, which are very trendy right now. But at $100 for a desk riser to several thousand dollars for an electrified desk, it may or may not be in the budget. Something that almost everyone can add is a little outdoor office time, whether that is taking a phone call on a walk, or moving to the patio or balcony if you have one.
Don’t overlook the impact a simple change of paint colors and how they can make you happy. Contrary to what you’ve read, there is no one right color for your home office. Whether you are drawn to warm or cool colors, whatever makes you happy could be as close as a $30 gallon of paint. You’ve seen it a million times, but a good painting transformation never gets old.
Home office bookcase shelves before paint:
Home office bookcase shelves after paint and organizing:
If you need to brighten things up and don’t know where to start, Sherwin Williams 7036 Accessible Beige is a good place to start. I also like SW 6204 Sea Salt for a bit of color that still feels like a neutral.
Make room for pets or a plant, if you are a plant person. I’m not, but my kitty comes to work at least once a day.
If you don’t have a pet, then definitely make space for a inspiring or heartwarming set of photos. My pictures of friends and recent trips make me smile every day.
Last but not least, don’t forget that clutter does not contribute to your mental health. Piles and half-finished projects sap your energy. Leaving these open loops around are like leaving an open circuit connected to a battery; every time you look at an unfinished project, it zaps a little energy and drains your power. Take time every day to organize at least a little, and tackle those bigger projects to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
What else have you found in your home office that helps with your mental health?