If you’re like me, working a desk job and having anxiety are two inevitabilities of life. I get up, go to work, and sometimes my buddy anxiety is right there with me. Other times, they show up after a stressful day, or right before a deadline. Either way, I’ve just learned that life with anxiety is going to happen, so why not be prepared? This got me thinking about ways I can best equip my desk with items that will help me in the midst of anxiety. While not a comprehensive list, I’ve compiled a list of seven awesome anxiety reducing items to keep at your desk, for your reading pleasure.
- Essential Oil Defuser: I feel like as an anxiety sufferer, essential oils are just part of my calm down process. I use Eucalyptus and Mint, together usually, to help me relax and get to my “calm place”. This “calm place” is a meditation I do to help me get grounded again during a panic attack, and that meditation is attached to those scents. So, having essential oils with me at all times can be an extremely useful when I can’t just stop everything and go for a walk.
What’s even better, is that essential oil difusers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can work any kind of space you have. If you don’t have to share a cubicle, and have your own office, buy a larger desk difuser that fills your entire room with your favorite scent. If you share a cubicle, and want something a little less extreme, you can go for a smaller difuser or a necklace difuser – which is great for personal use and can be used anywhere!
Alternative: If your workplace allows candles, or if you work in an environment that isn’t exactly an office space, you can buy a candle with your favorite scent! It’s cheaper, and works just as well.
- Glitter Jar. If you’re an avid DIYer like me, and love pretty, glittery things, let me introduce you to the glitter jar! This jar is meant to help you promote mindfulness, and seeing the color and glitter swirl around is supposed to relax and calm you. While it is used a lot for kids, there isn’t anything quite like being able to shake a beautiful jar of color and glitter, and then get lost in the swirls. Better yet, they’re easy and fairly cheap to make! All you need is a voss water bottle, some glitter, some kind of solution (like soap or corn syrup) and food coloring.
Alternative: If you’re not into DIYing, and would rather have something already preassembled, try a Glitter Lava Lamp, or a just a standard lava lamp! They look great on a desk, and would serve a similar purpose.
- Coloring Book/Colored Pencils. I had a boss at my first job out of college that never let our office space be without a coloring page. We’d print off these giant pages, buy a big box of crayons, and whenever we needed a mental break to work through something, or simply to step away from our work, we’d color. Our office became very popular for people looking to break from work, and it was always nice to know that if I needed something to distract me, coloring was an option.
Now, you may not have the room for a large coloring page, but keeping a coloring book and some colored pencils in your desk drawer for break time might be helpful! There’s been countless of studies looking at how coloring is relaxing, reduces anxiety and stress, and helps us stay grounded. I even did an article about this for our But Does It Work? segment! Take 5 to 10 minutes when you feel like you’re stressed beyond belief and color, you might be surprised how well it’ll help you get a level head again.
Alternative: If you’re not in to having coloring books and colored pencils at your desk, there are tons of free coloring apps that are a bit more discreet and allow you to still spend time working that creative muscle!
- Fidget Cube. I have to fidget. There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. Especially in meetings or in situations where I may not be having enough stimulation to keep me focused. It’s the perfect breeding ground for me to zone out, and start dwelling on my anxiety again. Unlike the fidget spinners which became all the craze and quickly got banned from many schools, fidget cubes have a bunch of different sides to allow you to fidget how you see fit. My recommendation though, is to buy it from the people who originally created it, and not just a knock off from Wal-Mart! You can find the Fidget Cube here.
Alternative: A fidget cube can be seen as a lot of money, so instead of a fidget cube, you can also look at fidget putty or something you can squeeze, stretch and squish for all your fidgeting desires.
- Headphones. So, this might be a bit misleading, because headphones themselves don’t help you avoid anxiety. It’s what you listen to through the headphones that helps! I find that for me, music can be a great tool for processing through tough emotions, whether it be anxiety, sadness or anger. Having music on in the workplace is sometimes frowned upon, and not everyone is going to enjoy your taste in tunes. Having headphones means you can listen to the music that you love, and drown out the rest of the world.
I also tend to listen to ASMR a lot, so having headphones while at work means if I’m feeling particularly tense, I can turn on a video or two and relax a bit while working on something that might be potentially stressful or overwhelming.
Alternative: While there really is no alternative to headphones, if you work in an area where you can close your door and turn on some music, meditation or breathing exercises for a few minutes, that’s always a great way to decompress after and during a stressful day!
- A Sign or Poster of your Favorite Quote or Self Affirmation. As I’m typing this, I’m staring at my “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome” sign sitting in front of my computer. It’s not exactly my favorite quote or self affirmation, but it does help me smile and keep my chin up on days where awesome seems impossible. Finding a poster, picture or wooden sign to put in or around your desk with your favorite quote or self affirmation is a not only a great way to remind yourself of your worth and strength when you need it, but also really fancies up the standard workplace desk.
One of the first techniques I learned in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was positive self affirmations to help me stay calm, rational and happy on tough days. SO why not incorporate that into your office space, where you are most likely to feel high levels of stress and anxiety? Find one online, or create your own!
Alternative: If desk space or wall space is an issue, but you still want a reminder, sticky notes are a great way to include reminders to yourself and most office spaces have them! Write down a few of your favorite quotes and positive affirmations, and stick them to your computer or desk!
- A Journal/Anxiety Notebook. I’m one of those people that greatly benefits from writing during anxious moments. The biggest reason for this is that when I write it down, those thoughts no longer seem as scary or vague. I’ve down this for days when my obsessiveness gets the best of me. Sometimes it makes the obsession worse, but in the situations where I can’t talk it out, I write it out.
There are TONS of great anxiety notebooks that are centered around helping you sort through anxious thoughts, and monitor your mood. A simple search on Amazon will find you hundreds of listings, some of which combine a journal, positive self affirmations and quotes, AND a coloring book! If you don’t really want an anxiety specific journal, you can always stick to a plain journal for you to chronicle all your anxious thoughts.
Alternative: Sometimes buying a journal seems wasted because you never use it or it gets misplaced. You can do the same kind of thing with a variety of journaling phone apps, or even just typing it up in word and not saving the document.
These are just seven awesome items (and their alternatives) that you can use to help reduce and manage anxiety while at work. Do you have a method that you use that wasn’t listed here? Let us know what they are in the comments!
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