You experience a variety of small environmental stresses every day, from the frustrations of commuting to badly organized work spaces. However, with a little planning, many of these stresses can be controlled quite easily.

Recognize How It All Adds Up

Everyday annoyances can be very small and seem minor – a traffic jam, a backache caused by sitting in a badly designed or uncomfortable chair, the distraction of some gossiping colleagues, a lost document in a cluttered office – but each one can trigger a small release of stress hormones into your body and this will affect your overall sense of wellbeing. If you can take steps to control the background level of stress you should be able to reduce the impact of the major stressors when they occur.

Case Study: Analyzing Your Job

Katrina’s job was very unpredictable and whenever something went wrong, she was the one who had to sort it out. Realizing that her job was a stressful one, she did what she could to balance this stress. She played relaxing music in her car during her long commute, reorganized the layout of her office to make it as efficient as possible, purchased plants, and brought in daylight lighting. While she still had a stressful job, these actions reduced her overall stress.

  • By thinking about her commute Katrina was able to take steps to reduce the stress it caused.

  • By reorganizing her office space and improving her working environment, she eliminated many of the small irritations that were contributing to her stress.

  • By changing her work environment to make it as pleasant and enjoyable as she could, Katrina gave herself something pleasant to enjoy when she was feeling down.


When you have recognized the imperfections of your environment, change what you can, and try to see the rest as necessary costs with positive benefits.

Techniques to Practise

To reduce the stress caused by commuting you can learn to maximize your control, minimize your discomfort, and remain calm and collected.

Consider some of the following techniques to reduce commuting stress.

  • Leave earlier for work and beat the rush.

  • Find a better way around regular congestion spots.

  • Adjust the controls of your car so the driving position is as comfortable as possible.

  • Play calming music whenever you feel frustrated by delays and difficulties.

  • Use your positive thinking skills to think about your commute in a more positive and resourceful way.

  • When using public transport, read a book or magazine or distract yourself in some way.

On the Way to Work

However it is done, commuting can be a source of unpleasant stress. If you commute by car, you can experience stress from traffic congestion, physical discomfort, air pollution, and noise. Congestion is often the most intense source of frustration – your goal is to get to work or home as quickly as possible, and congestion directly prevents you from achieving this, taking away your control. Commuting by public transport has its own set of stresses – the lack of control over your environment, overcrowding, violation of personal space, noise, delay, and unwelcome interaction with other travellers.

Move Further Out

The stresses of public transport are more difficult to manage than car commutes because you have less control over the situation. A long-term solution may be to move closer to the start of a commuting route where crowding is usually less intense, giving you the chance to find a seat and the freedom to arrange yourself and your possessions.

Improve Your Office

The conditions in which you work can have a major impact on the way you feel about your job, and the layout of your working space is of paramount importance. People and resources need to be immediately at hand if you are to work efficiently. An open plan environment can promote good communication and team performance, but the noise of office equipment, telephones, and people talking can be immensely distracting. If this is a source of stress, try using furniture, screens, blinds, and plants to create personal space and muffle distracting noise.

Make Yourself Comfortable


A pleasant environment reduces stress levels

Badly designed and uncomfortable furniture, the incorrect positioning of computer equipment, inadequate lighting, poor air quality, thoughtless office planning and cramped, inadequate work spaces – all of these can add to everyday tensions and frustrations by causing backache, eye strain, dry throat, headaches, fatigue, and a host of other niggling discomforts. All of the things that cause these problems can be solved with a little thought and expenditure, and the benefits are well worth the cost.

Think Smart

The simple process of pinpointing and making a note of your everyday stressors can help to make them much more manageable.

At the end of the day, look at these things and think what you can do about them. Where you can, take action to manage each of the problem factors to make life more comfortable.

Brighten Up

In the scale of all business expenses, it doesn’t cost much to keep your work space up to a reasonable standard and to make it a pleasant place in which to work, reducing stress and increasing efficiency.

Most people like bright daylight, so consider fitting broad spectrum lighting. Position your computer screen in such a way that glare from natural or artificial light is eliminated. Keeping plants in your office can have a calming influence – take the time to nurture them as a neglected plant can instill feelings of guilt.

Arrange your working environment so that it is comfortable, making sure that your seat is properly adjusted and that the computer monitor and keyboard are comfortably placed.

Use partitioning to create a quiet oasis in which you can better concentrate. Photos and pictures will personalize your work space and improve your sense of wellbeing while at work.


Take regular breaks away from your desk in order to clear your mind and reenergize your body.

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