My dream work environment

photo: Instagram @wearehappyplace

In this day and age, mastering work-life balance is much harder than it should be. And even when we do find a rare zen moment in the office, we can't help but feel a tad guilty that we aren't cranking away. But experts have proven those little zen moments we spend not working at work are actually beneficial to productivity  — and mental health.

Some of our best ideas occur when we turn our brains off and relax for a second. Hell, Google encourages employees to take naps or meditate in order to feel less stressed because they know how to get stuff done.

But not everyone has the luxury of an employer that loves nap time. Thankfully there are other small ways to find your peaceful state at the office.

Create a daily ritual

Squeeze your rubber ducky or stress ball, chat with your pal Lisa in accounting, or practice a tapping ritual at your desk.

Whatever your routine is, make it something enjoyable to look forward to every day. It'll help you settle into your workday with a smile on your face and take your mind off whatever it is that's usually got you bugging.

Invest in the most comfortable seat possible

OK, this green horseshoe is not what I had in mind, but it's still fabulous.

For many of us, most of our day is spent on our butts. It only makes sense to park that butt somewhere that doesn't make it (or the rest of your body) numb and stiff. At the very least, buy a butt pillow! Look for one shape like the letter U. You're welcome.

Prepare for dramatic temperature changes

If you're someone who's always cold, or you work in a really cold office, I envy you. You can bring a sweater or shawl to throw over your shoulders to avoid your office's blasting air conditioning. However, if you're a warm-blooded grizzly bear like myself — or just work in a very warm space — you'll probably need a desk fan. And let me tell you, it will SAVE YOUR LIFE. 

Keeping your body temperature regulated will save you loads of energy that you can use to do ... well, anything other than work.

Wear (or bring) comfortable shoes

Although high-heeled shoes are extremely fabulous and sometimes necessary for women in a professional atmosphere, they can wreak real havoc on your feet, knees, back, and hips over time. 

If you can wear comfortable shoes to work, do it. If you can't, hiding a pair of clogs, flat sandals, or slippers under your desk to give those dogs a break between meetings could actually save your joints.

Give yourself a pep talk every now and then

I talk so kindly to myself that you'd think I had made huge medical advancements for humankind. I'm a good person (I recycle, dammit), and it's simply nice to remind myself of that sometimes.

You deserve nice words too. Talk to yourself as you would your best friend. Aren't they great and smart and adorable? So are you! Start acting like it.

Eliminate desk clutter

You know how much easier it is to get stuff done when you know where everything you need is located? A cluttered desk makes for a cluttered mind. Tidy up your personal workspace and you'll feel some of that stress melt right off.

Adopt some plant friends

Work plants are a tonic for work life because they are a tonic for humans. They give us oxygen and connect us to nature, and that's a must for people like us who are glued to our computers day in and out.

And what's more, they remind us to focus on something that isn't ourselves.

Eat healthy snacks, for heaven's sake

This is a big one. Generic vending machine snacks can deplete your bank account and mess up your healthy gut bacteria. Instead, prepare snacks at home to nix cravings and pre-lunch hunger. It doesn't need to be all celery and carrots, but if you're into that stuff, do you!

Bags of trail mix, bananas, oranges, broccoli, and hummus are great snacks that pack fiber, zinc, and other important vibes for a healthy stomach and a stress-free brain.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Dehydration can cause headaches, breakouts, fatigue, and a weakened immune system — and that's just the tip of the iceberg. So, drink up, baby. Water is a salve for the body.

Rule of thumb: Drink your weight in ounces divided by two. So if you're 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces (that's ~9 cups of water).

Take breaks — and use them to get outside

If you work in a city or neighborhood that allows some walking around, go for a walk every day or simply venture out to find new coffee and lunch spots. You'll get your steps in and feel more connected to the place where you spend eight hours of your day.

If you work in a big office, take the long way to get coffee or go to the bathroom. You'll find new places, new people, and maybe even new snacks along the way.

Stay ~fresh~

OK, this does not require you to buy something as boujee as La Mer face mist, but the theory still stands: Keeping a cool face mist on hand can reinvigorate you in the middle of a day that's dragging. Evian Mist and Mario Badescu Cucumber Spray are affordable alternatives that won't put a cramp in your budget.

Keeping deodorant or your favorite light fragrance on hand can have the same effect.

Make a custom power playlist

Make like @champagnepapi and put together a playlist that motivates you and just makes you feel good. That way, you can ingest feel-good motivation on loop all day long.

Stretch it out

We don't all have the luxury of squeezing a yoga class into our day. But I encourage any and every person to find the time to at least stretch every day.

Issues with sleep can create tension in the shoulders and face. That's a good place to start. Even if all you can afford time-wise is a quick roll of your head and shoulders, do it! And if you have time to bust out a foam roller, hop on, babe. Your muscles will thank you.

Cut down your social media intake (sorry, but it helps)

I might sound like your parents, but unplugging in the middle of a big task is a true gift to your productivity. You don't need that distraction during high-pressured assignments. 

Humans create distractions all the time to get out of work, ease anxiety, and self-sabotage. But what it really leads to is more stress. NO THANK YOU. Bye for now, phone.