16 Little Things To Make Your Desk More Pleasant

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A severe lack of color. No natural light. Cold, hard surfaces. No, it's not a prison cell. It's the standard American office. If your workplace is still proudly displaying overhead fluorescent lights that totally kill your selfie game and miserable windowless offices, you'll want to consider these 17 little things to make your desk more pleasant.

Not to be dramatic, but the typical desk is a recipe for disaster. There's the tendency to clutter, effects of excessive sitting, and, for a lot of us, the concern of getting too much screen time — something to really think about, considering most of us are in front of our computers and phones for the majority of the day.

Meanwhile, you're expected to produce high-quality work day in and day out. Yeah. Sure. No problem. In the words of Sue Ellen Crandell in Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, "I'm right on top of that, Rose!"

Some companies are trying to evolve with open office workspaces, and while we can applaud their good intentions, recent studies conducted by Harvard and the University of Sydney have already found they don't really improve the situation. While the typical desk probably isn't undergoing any huge makeovers in the near future, at the very least, you can try keeping these 17 little things nearby to help you feel better mentally and physically.

1. A Lamp

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Harsh fluorescent lights beating down on you for eight hours or more a day? Thanks but no. While fluorescent lights probably aren't bad for your health (as many rumors suggest), they certainly aren't fun to look at. Lamps are the perfect solution. Also, they're pretty.

2. A Mini Christmas Tree

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If your office is OK with it, you might even consider putting that teeny tiny tree up on your desk early. Psychologist Deborah Serani told Today, "It does create that neurological shift that can produce happiness. I think anything that takes us out of our normal habituation, the normal day in, day out ... signals our senses, and then our senses measure if it's pleasing or not. Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone."

3. Toys To Keep You Busy

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You might think about taking this one step further and keeping toys and other objects nearby that are also good for stress relief. The Muse has a list of 18 of them, two of which — I feel the need to point out — are mini cornhole and tiny pond you can fish in.

On second thought, let's just forget work completely and play cornhole.

4. Artwork

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A study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Associationfind that making art can result in the significant lowering of cortisol levels — so go ahead. Doodle away and hang that art up by your desk with pride.

5. Travel Souvenirs

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When you can't see the world, bring the world to you. Snow globes from Paris and matryoshkas from Russia promise to brighten up an otherwise ordinary day.

6. A Picture Of A Window

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I'm going to refrain from talking about how horrible it is that anyone has to work in a room without windows and instead focus on the benefits. (But seriously, no one should have to work in a room without windows.)

A study published in the journal Environmental Psychology indicated simply looking at nature can be good for your brain — even if it's just an image on your computer screen.

In other words, even if you have to fake that gorgeous window view, do it — because you might reap serious benefits.

7. Slippers And A Blanket

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Hard chairs, bright lights, staring at a monitor for hours without break — working at a desk isn't typically the coziest feeling in the world.

True, you don't want to be so comfortable that you fall asleep, which is definitely what would happen to me if you gave me a blanket at my desk. But if you can keep your eyes open, slippers and a blanket are a simple way to make your desk more comfortable.

8. A Plant

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Everyone loves a good plant, and this is no coincidence.

Psychology Today explains that green, leafy plants can boost mood and help us get along better with other people. They can make you feel better physically, reduce stress, boost brain power, and enhance creativity.

9. Photos Of Family And Friends

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The sad truth is that many of us spend more time at work than we do with our friends and family. This is wrong and it needs to change, but in the meantime, keep them as close as you can, even if you can't be with them.

10. Absolutely Nothing

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Nothing is quite as satisfying as a spotless desk. As an added bonus, a clutter-free environment can boost your mental health, says Psychology Today.

11. Holiday Lights

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Twinkle lights aren't reserved for the holidays anymore. Spend mere seconds scrolling through home inspiration on Pinterest and you'll see twinkle lights in every other image.

And, as you know by now, lighting can change your mood — as can holiday decorations that stay up year-round.

12. A Mug Warmer

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Nothing puts a damper on your morning quite like room temperature coffee that you have to get up and reheat 57 times. Instead, bring the heat to your desk, with a mug warmer. Brilliant.

You can find plenty of options on Amazon.

13. A Candy Dish

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I've said it before and I'll say it again: dark chocolate reduces stress, boosts blood flow, and it's good for your heart.

More dark chocolate on your desk, please!

14. Origami

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This is a definite plus, especially if you're the one folding it. Origami Spirit points out that origami challenges us cognitively, works multiple areas of our brains, and stimulates non-verbal thinking, attention, memory, 3D comprehension, and imagination.

You get to make pretty birds and stuff, too.

15. A Mini Fan

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You don't need scientific research to tell you that having a sweat mustache sucks. Case closed.

16. A Mirror

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This serves a dual purpose.

  1. You can see people walking up behind you so you'll have enough time to close Facebook.
  2. You can make sure you don't have a piece of kale stuck in your teeth before a big meeting.

However you choose to dress up your desk is up to you — but if you're stuck in a desk rut, hopefully one of these tricks will help.