How Your Office Environment Might Be Affecting Your Mental Health
When you’re stressed and burned out there are usually some simple signals to let you know what’s happening.
An increase in how much you’re drinking is a sure sign of stress, burnout, or both. A drink now and then is one thing, but if you need more than 2-3 to relax after a day at the office, it’s a sure sign something is wrong.
If you’re feeling disconnected from people and things around you (technically called disassociation) or feel like you’re walking around in a permanent fog, that’s a sign of trouble.
We all have bad days when we snap at everyone, but if you find it happening on a regular basis, that’s one of the most common signs of stress.
Every Day Is Bad
Is every day a bad day where you dread going into the office? If getting through an ordinary day at work takes a huge effort, you’re stressed out.
If you’re experiencing two of these symptoms, you need to slow down. If you have three of them you’re in trouble. If you are experiencing all four of them, hit the breaks right now before you come in for a crash landing.
There are a number of techniques you can use to reduce stress. One of them is called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a series of audio-visual tapes that are designed to relax you. Techniques such as these can help reduce the stress that has already built up in you, but they don’t remove the source of the stress. Unless you address the source of the problem, the stress will keep coming back. Often overlooked in the office, poor acoustics can increase employee stress levels by causing high noise levels that can be avoided, acoustic wall tiles will reduce noise levels to avoid this added stress.
Scientists have long known that the environment you find yourself in can have a dramatic impact on your physical health. It can also impact your mental health, often without you being aware of it until the damage has already been done.
There is an old saying that cleanliness is next to Godliness, but cleanliness is also next to healthiness. The cleaner and more organized your environment is, at home or at work, the healthier it is for you, mentally as well as physically. There have been actual studies of the psychological effects of cleanliness.
One such study, conducted by Nicole R. Keith, Ph.D., at Indiana University, discovered that people with clean houses are happier than people who keep their houses messy. Subjects who kept their houses clean were more active and healthier than subjects who didn’t.
Another study in 2010 found that people who described their homes as cluttered or other such terms were more fatigued and depressed than women who described their houses as restful.
A 2011 study found that cluttered surroundings can actually make it hard for people to focus on what they’re doing. Their visual cortex appears to get overwhelmed by the clutter, which makes it harder for them to pay attention to what they’re supposed to be doing.
The list of studies just goes on and on, all of them pointing in the same direction.
Clean Is Healthy
Since people spend so much of their waking time at work, the cleanliness of it has a major impact on their health and productivity. For example; the average keyboard has about 7,500 bacteria on it at any given time. Think about that the next time you feel a “summer cold” coming on. It may not have anything to do with the seasons.
In addition to the mental health stress-related problems listed above, clutter can also trigger allergies. When dirt is allowed to accumulate in the office, the amount of dust and allergens increase right along with it. Dust bunny is a cute name for a ball of “stuff” that is probably overrun with dust mites and bacteria.
Allergy attacks aren’t fun. They can include scratchy throats, dry eyes, coughing, asthma attacks, and skin rashes. When you’re not feeling good physically, it won’t be long before you’re not feeling good mentally either.
Start At The Bottom
When it’s time to clean your office, start at the bottom and work your way up – literally. Cleaning floors is where it all begins. We track in mud, dirt, leaves, grass, insects, and who knows what else when we walk into the office from outside. Anything and everything we stepped in, comes along for the ride and winds up on the floor.
A professional floor cleaning service should be the first step you take in cleaning up your office to create a healthier, more attractive workplace environment.