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Create A Successful And Peaceful Work Environment

Many specific methods can help create a more peaceful work environment helping the HSP become more successful at their job.

Consider which of the suggestions in this section are germane to your workplace and try to incorporate some of the following ideas into your work situation.

Make Your Physical Work Environment Beautiful

You can listen to calming background music to reduce or eliminate ambient noise at work. Many HSPs have told me that they frequently listen to music, wearing a headset, while some wear earplugs on the job. Put up inspiring pictures of natural settings such as land or seascapes or family pictures.

If you are working under fluorescent lights or in an artificial urban setting, gazing at nature will soothe your nerves. It may also help if you bring flowers and plants to your office. Your nervous system will be calmed by inhaling the delicate fragrance of flowers or by gazing at an exquisite bouquet. Surround yourself with the love of pictures of family and friends. Make sure that you have a comfortable chair to sit in throughout the workday so that your muscles are relaxed. You can buy a massage cushion for your chair that will electronically massage your tension away throughout the day.

Try to transform the sound of the telephone ringing at work into a relaxation cue. First lower the volume if possible. Let the ringing remind you to relax your muscles, take some slow deep breaths and repeat a mantra such as peace. If possible, don’t answer the phone until the third or fourth ring. Use those few moments to relax deeply.

Reduce Stimulation In Your Work Environment

It’s a good idea to create a daily work schedule to reduce stimulation in your work environment, rather than just immediately jumping into a busy workday every morning. When you first arrive at work, center yourself by spending a few moments either meditating or doing some slow, deep abdominal breathing. Look at your work schedule for the day and decide, given your sensitivity, what is a realistic expectation of assignments to be completed. Try to schedule some time for relaxation breaks and remember to practice progressive muscle relaxation at your workstation.

The HSP traits of being very responsible and feeling easily overwhelmed by time pressure can really exacerbate stress. If you feel that the demands of the day will be too overwhelming, try to scale down your workload or talk to your supervisor. Be realistic and don’t create added stress by trying to push yourself beyond your limits.

I have learned to say no to taking on extra commitments at work and in my personal life. Although I sometimes feel guilty when I say no, the alternative for me has increased anxiety since I always feel that I need to follow through with any commitment that I make. However, if I feel that my energy is strong and I have free time, I will frequently volunteer on the spot to help out in areas that I previously didn’t want to commit to. This method of spontaneously assisting others seems to suit the HSP temperament by employing the characteristic of compassion without feeling overwhelmed by future commitments.

Since HSPs are easily affected by other people’s moods, when you are working under time pressure, you may write, talk and type faster, which exacerbates tension. You may want to put a note on your desk reminding yourself to work slower, rather than being swept away by the frenetic moods of your colleagues. You can remind your coworkers that Type A employees succeed in spite of their time urgent, competitive and aggressive behavior, not because of it. The pause to reflect trudging tortoise beats the hyper hare.

The use of aromatherapy, which is the inhalation of vaporized essential oils, is another effective method to create tranquility in your work environment.  Certain essential oils have proved effective against stress and help create relaxation.  For example, a study showed that keyboard errors decreased by over 50% when the fragrance of lemon is diffused into an office.

If you’re sitting all day at work, it’s important to periodically take walking or stretching breaks to reduce stimulation from your intense job. You can always do stretching, even while seated in your chair. Try to do progressive relaxation for a few moments every hour by visualizing all the muscles in your body relaxing further and further as you take some slow, deep breaths. I remember one student who worked in a very busy medical office told me that she didn’t have time to take even one break throughout the day.  However, she tried using progressive relaxation while working and found it quite effective in reducing stress.

If you have clients or customers who come to your workplace, you may want to have some uplifting magazines available to create a peaceful environment.  In addition, having calming herb tea and healthy snacks, like fruit, available for clients and staff is another potent method to create a tranquil work environment.

Some progressive, large companies have fitness centers and meditation rooms for their employees. You may want to investigate with your supervisor the possibility of creating a meditation room. You could point out that employee’s efficiency would improve if they had a peaceful room to meditate in for short breaks during the day.  A quiet dark room is a godsend for the HSP who works in a stimulating environment.

Harmony Is Important In Your Work Environment

To help increase harmony at work, recommend to your supervisor to install a suggestion box. Since the HSP may have many complaints and feel embarrassed to be asking for changes, the anonymity of the suggestion box would be beneficial. The suggestion box could also give an opportunity for non-HSPs who may be mildly bothered by some of the same conditions to express their opinion.

HSPs with insomnia usually find it stressful to be at work early every morning. Ask your employer about the possibility of arriving at work later in exchange for taking a shorter lunch hour or working a little later in the day. One student told me that when he didn’t have to be at work early every morning, he wouldn’t have as much difficulty falling asleep. He would tell himself that he could always sleep later the following morning, so it didn’t matter if it took some time to fall asleep.

However, if you enjoy going to work early, it can be beneficial for HSPs to start the day in a peaceful manner with few distractions. By the time the other employees arrive, you have already calmly started your day. You may then be able to go home early before rush hour traffic and have an opportunity to take a nap or take a walk in a park after work. You can explore with your boss if you could do some work from home, which is ideal for the HSP. More and more people are working part-time to full time from their home office, which really lessens over-stimulation for the HSP.

Remember that one of the most important factors in job satisfaction is experiencing positive interpersonal relationships at work. You can positively affect your interpersonal relationships at work when you are relaxed. If you’re feeling anxious, the tension amongst your colleagues will grow. However, when you are taking regular meditation breaks and utilizing other relaxation methods to create inner-peace, your coworkers will also become calmer. When you keep your sense of humor and smile frequently, your feelings of joy and happiness at work will increase.

By implementing the above techniques, you will create more inner peace for yourself and be more successful in your job.

About Ted Zeff

Ted Zeff, Ph.D., received his doctorate in psychology in 1981 from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA. Dr. Zeff has more than 25 years experience counseling sensitive children and adults. He currently teaches workshops and consults internationally on coping strategies for highly sensitive children and adults. Dr. Zeff is considered one of the world's experts on the trait of high sensitivity. He has given presentations and workshops in Denmark, The Netherlands and in many venues throughout the United States. He is the author of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide, The Highly Sensitive Person’s Companion and The Strong, Sensitive Boy. His books have been translated into five languages. Dr. Zeff's articles about how to detect and prevent bullying have appeared in many magazines including Texas and Ohio state PTA, Canadian Association for Child and Play Therapy and the Connecticut School Psychologists Association He has been interviewed by Good Morning Bay Area on NBC TV, National Public Radio and Psychology Today, as well as by Dutch and Danish magazines. Connect with Ted on Facebook or Twitter.

2 Comments

  1. Darlene Waldon on February 10, 2017 at 11:27 am

    I truly value your work, Great post.

  2. Rayne Dowell on December 7, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Great article, thank you Ted! At one workplace I found I was getting headaches daily. It turned out the fluorescent light above my desk was the culprit. I found switching the fluorescent light bulb out for an incandescent light bulb solved the problem for me.

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