SINGAPORE — Picture this: you just came out from a 3-hour-long meeting that overran for two hours, and wasn’t the least helpful to any work process/projects, and because of this, you missed your lunch date, (and worse, ate lunch with your superiors during the meeting), and now, you don’t have enough time to complete your work, which was due yesterday. You also have to spend some time to debrief your subordinates on the highlights of that exhausting meeting. Oh, you have to skip yet another session of yoga in the evening, too.
A situation similar to this may have happened to you at work before. Some of you may experience this sort of disruption to your day on a daily basis, and others, perhaps, every few days. It can be difficult to get back into that headspace where you are focused and just relaxed enough to do your work. It might even seem hard to breathe at times.
Manage Stress and reclaim Your Calm
One small way to cope with workplace stress is to zen up your work desk. I’m not just talking about Marie Kondo-ing your space but also finding ways and items to create a sense of calm in your personal workspace. The office may be messy, loud or disruptive but your desk does not have to be. Make it a place where you can collect your thoughts; a refuge that subconsciously reminds you to calm down, breathe and focus.
I speak from experience. More than 10 years ago, in one of my earlier work experiences, I worked long hours to put my all into every project as a way to prove I’m a worthy writer, and I would often find myself exhausted. I had a wonderful editor and thankfully, she wasn’t the source of my stress. I was the root of my problem. As I didn’t study journalism or any major related to English, I was hard on myself and always strived to turn in the perfect copy. One of my former work colleagues, and now a good friend, and I would share our woes. Sometimes, we would even cry together or sing out loud to relieve stress. One thing I noticed about my pal was she was almost always calm. Yes, she was stressed up but she was also focused and mindful, and a million times less frantic than I was.
Every time, my line of sight reaches her desk, my racing mind paused for a few seconds, and I was able to take a deep breath. The sight of her desk was therapy for me. And that’s because her desk was zen AF. Before it was trendy to add crystals, place bonsai and burn scented candles or use diffusers at your work desk, my pal was already all that. She wasn’t doing it for Instagram (well, Instagram wasn’t born yet). It was her intuition to seek and offer refuge for herself, and for others around her. I find myself unknowingly soaking in all that positive energy when I popped by her desk several times a week. Thank you, girl. (She is now a certified aromatherapist, and the founder of her own aromatherapy atelier, handcrafting artisanal goods that calm your mind and lift your moods.)
Every Little Step Counts
The smallest things can have a big impact on how you feel. From that early self-care experience, I learnt that it was up to me to create a sense of calm in crazy work environments that were out of my control. I would turn up on a Saturday with my bag of zen things to spruce up my desk. When things pile up and my zen display of zenness gets pushed aside, I would still have the scented candle I kept just next to my computer (so I don’t forget). At any time I needed a breather, I would reach for it and inhale the relaxing scent. If you don’t fancy candles, you can also use a hand cream with your favourite scent.
Now, take a deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth. A burnout is not the end to your career. Track your stressors, establish boundaries, speak with your supervisor and take time to recharge. While you work towards the next step in your career, here are my go-to picks to bring a piece of serenity to your workspace. Go forth and zen on.
Aveda Hand Relief Moisturizing Creme, S$47 (125ml). From Aveda, #B1-44 Ngee Ann City.
Chanel La Creme Main Riche, S$85. From all Chanel counters and stores.
Glacce Amethyst Bottle, USD84. From Net-a-porter.
The Misfits ceramic planter in Moustache Man, S$75. From Tumbleweed.
The Beginning Series - Geometrical Terrariums, from S$55. From The Orijean.
Oasis:skin Hydrate Dewy Fine Treatment Mist, S$12 (10ml). From Oasis:skin.
Geometric Aromatherapy Oil Burner (limited edition), S$62. From Mmerci Encore.
Mmerci Encore Rise Blend, S$37. From Mmerci Encore.
Hysses Peppermint Essential Oil, S$25.90. From Hysses.
Hysses Moulin Jolie Diffuser, S$95.90. From Hysses.
Yun Desktop Diffuser in Rose Gold, S$62. From Scene Shang.
Candles Of Light Evenlight Terrazzo Candle Jar, S$53.90. From Candles Of Light.
Diptyque Baies Scented Candle, S$88. From Diptyque, #B1-33A Ngee Ann City, and Escentials.