With the endless expectations, responsibilities, and deadlines at work, stress is inevitable. However, there are many ways to counteract the stress. Among one of my favorites is taking a break in a Zen Room. A Zen Room is a space specifically designed to decrease stress. A place where you can find peace and reconnect with yourself.

For some, their stress-free zone may be calming and relaxing whereas for others it may be energizing and uplifting. Let me share some ideas on how to make your office Zen Room purposeful to each individual who steps foot inside.

Lighting for ambiance.

Just like when you are eating out at a restaurant, the ambiance can be everything. A significant part of that is the lighting. Dark, dull, too bright…it all can affect your experience and mood being there. Since you are sharing this room with others you will need options that suit everyone’s expectations of this space. Some desire to feel uplifted and energized by the room. So having some floor lamps, candles and the option to open a window can be an easy way to brighten it up a bit.

On the flip side, others may want to have more of a restful and restorative experience. Having blackout shades or blinds on windows, dimmers on lights or some simple tea light candles can create a calming and soothing environment. These are all easy ways to create the right ambiance for each individual.

Make noise.

This does not mean adding a drum set and a pair of sticks to your Zen Room. As you may know, specific sounds can trigger different stress responses in the body. For example a siren may cause your blood pressure to spike because you may think you are getting pulled over or that there is an emergency nearby. Whereas hearing white noise or the sounds of nature can cause your mind to decompress a little.

Perhaps you can place a blue tooth speaker in the room. This will allow each person to connect his or her phone and choose music and sounds that most appeal to them. Another good idea is to add a water feature such as a small indoor fountain. The sound of flowing water is said to be revitalizing and calming.

Time to color.

A 2015 study conducted on Color and Psychological Function revealed that wearing and surrounding yourself with red may increase alertness and mental stimuli. On the contrary, blues and greens are said to aid in relaxation while yellow can increase cheerfulness. Since this room is to be a communal space, the easiest way to meet everyone’s need is to choose an overall neutral color scheme like white or light grey for the walls and ceilings. Then add a splash of color with the rooms decor. For example, choose an essential oil diffuser that allows you to select your color preference, use plants and flowers to liven up the space, and decorate with colorful accessories like paintings, candle holders and floor pillows.

Neutralize the smell.

Smells can be a major distraction at work. A co-worker is heating up his leftover roast from the night before and another just lit her new favorite candle in her office. Though your Zen Room may in fact have a door to shut out these annoyances, smells can linger and there is no need to suffer silently.

Essential oils are an excellent way to improve the room’s scent and decrease stress. Stock your space with an essential oil diffuser and include a few calming and energizing options like yang-lang, citrus or peppermint oils. You can also try keeping a small fridge in the room with small scented, personal towels like lavender or lemongrass.

Positive talk.

The University of Michigan Depression Center shares that controlling your thought patterns can counterbalance the feelings that go along with depression. One way to do this is by developing a mantra or practicing positive affirmations on a regular basis. Try placing a whiteboard in your Zen Room in order to write down personal affirmations or mantras. You can also adopt an inspirational quote, saying or word that can be displayed in your room through a painting or picture. Words like peace, gratitude, strength, tranquility or hope are a great place to start.

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