Work environments really run the gamut—in my time I've worked in bright, airy spaces with access to plenty of fresh air and quiet (ideal) to noisy, space-challenged dark corners (it drove me nuts). Greening your office area might help if you are working in something closer to the latter—you can fake at least some of the positive effects of healthy environments (which usually makes them more pleasant, too). Even small changes can have real impacts, so consider some of the suggestions below. 

Add plants

The most obvious way to green up your office space is to add green—in the form of plants. Besides bringing a real live, growing thing into what may otherwise be a sterile-feeling office, plants generate fresh oxygen and suck up CO2 (and common toxins). In experiments, a plants also raise productivity and lower stress, so there's basically no downside to bringing some greenery into your office. Yes, you will still have to water them, but there are many plants that take very minimal care and infrequent watering. And besides, caring for a plant is a good break, which is can also lower blood pressure and up focus when you return to your tasks. 

Recreate your aural environment

My biggest pet peeve about working in offices was always noise from other people. I find it hard to concentrate when my neighbor is yapping on the phone (imagine that!) and so one of my favorite coping mechanisms, like office workers everywhere, is donning a pair of headphones. And while I love listening to music, sometimes that can be distracting too. I've found that ocean sounds (like the video below), or other natural sounds like streams are a great way to both block out annoying noise, use sound to focus on your work and not get thrown off by online ads common to music services. I've also found that you can usually get away with playing ocean or stream sounds even without headphones, as they are irritating to basically nobody—though obviously you should check with your coworkers to make sure this is true. 

Turn off your computer

Turning off your desktop computer with the on/off switch should be done at night and definitely on the weekends to save energy. It will also mean your computer will get a chance to reboot itself more often, which can help extend its life.

Bring your own handtowel to the bathroom 

If you think about how many paper towels you use in a year of going to the bathroom, say, three times a day (so, 250 times 3, which is 750), you'll realize that's a lot of paper being used to simply wipe your already-clean hands. A simple solution is to bring any handtowel from home to reuse, or check out People Towels, which are fast drying and meant to be carried in your purse or bag. 

Think about your light

Are you getting enough good-quality light where you work most of the time? Or conversely, are you sitting in a spot that maximizes glare on your papers and computer screen, leading to squinting? Take a fresh look around your workspace and consider adding a lamp with a full-spectrum light bulb or adjusting your workspace to cut glare. 

Bring your own lunch

This one will save you money and will likely result in healthier meals (I know I tend to make better meal choices when I prepare them in advance). There are all kinds of fun lunchboxes for adults, too, so you can bring an interesting variety of food and carry it in reusuable containers. 

Keep a large water bottle on your desk

Fill the bottle in the morning, and make sure you finish it by end of day; you will up your water intake without much effort. Hydration is great for concentration and reducing headaches, and will improve skin quality—it can also help you cut back on snacking since oftentimes we feel hungry when we are actually thirsty. 

Related on MNN:

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.