5 Tips for staying human at the office

office phoneDenying or suppressing our humanity while at work can lead to tragic consequences… depression, anxiety, illicit stairwell trysts, office shootings, or the time my boss found me sitting on ‘the new guy’s’ desk after a drunken Christmas luncheon, performing an erotic reading of an article I’d found in a seismic geophysics magazine on the evolution of the scientific method – oh gawd the horror, the shame! Don’t let this happen to you! We are at our best and brightest when we stay connected to our passions and personalities. The following five tips are simple survival strategies to help you keep hold of your sanity and soul at your own office day job:

1) As counterintuitive as it feels, as hard as it is to say… go on, admit it, you WANT to be sitting there. If you don’t believe me, click here for compelling neurological proof.

2) Personalize, personalize, personalize! You don’t have to go as far as my art installation office phone pictured in the photo above. emoticon phone stickersEven I have to admit it might be getting a wee bit over-accessorized; I messed up twice the last time I had to dial our Xerox technician’s number on my emoticon keypad. A couple of your favourite pictures, inspirational quotes/posters (although these can all too quickly slide into the ironic), or comic strips can add some mood enhancing personal colour and flair.

3) Practice mindfulness brain games to help you reengage with your tasks and surroundings in novel ways. Try focusing on the experience of one sense at a time or imagine that you’re exploring a museum exhibit showcasing long-outdated 21st century office supplies. Trust me – it can really open things up. Just don’t advertise your little field trip, especially if you’re the only employee already risking your professionalism (let alone dignity) by dialing with customized emoticons.

4) Oxygenate! If at all possible, incorporate plants into your office environment. Spider plants are surprisingly easy to sustain and provide the optional bonus of an interactive tactile relationship. Refuel the rest of your body with a living lunch. I don’t mean go hunting for something (or someone) skulking around on the third floor, but get creative with your limited office kitchen supplies and make yourself something worth waking up for.

5) Keep your fantasies out of the office! Breaking news – you are a sexual being. Acknowledge this honest truth and move on. And obviously, do not, under any circumstances, engage in drunken desk hopping this holiday season! Keep your daydreams focused on your future, your weekend, or if things get really bleak, pretend you’re embroiled in a multi-billion dollar international corporate espionage conspiracy while filing your next report. Regressive? Perhaps. Nerdy? Decidedly. But desperate times call for decidedly desperate measures.

funny stickerMost importantly, stay conscious (always a good place to start) and on guard for subliminal, and not so subliminal (like that stupid Chubb door sticker I have to try to ignore every morning!), social and environmental cues that threaten to compromise your value as a precious, uniquely wonderful human being. And if you manage to get out alive this Friday, have a fabulous, unabashedly human weekend!

What do you do to stay human at your 9 to 5 job?

Dear Friday, how could have I let you see me like this?

Startled? Shocked? Horrified? All of the above. How could this have happened? Oh, I could give you a perfectly reasonable explanation for why I’m wearing slacks today – not pants or trousers, but honest to goodness slacks. And I swear I’m only surfing celebrity gossip to calm my beta-brain into a blissful alpha interim before boosting back up to finish my intellectual tome-of-the-moment (and it’s a really thick one too). But on the surface, I have completely submitted to the stereotype: the hair, a bun; my shoes, practical; my cardigan (yes, cardigan), thigh grazing and demure. I’m even drinking from our office kitchen’s “make every day a Friday!” mug. The horror.

Now, before I confess what I’m about to, I’m trusting you to understand something, that this moment does not define me. Just as I’ll trust that wherever you might find yourself today – in whatever footwear – that you, at least, have hope that someday you will find your own expression of whatever marvelous uniqueness your soul is coded to contain. That said…

My full surrender to the stereotype came as I reached into my desk drawer and dug out a cherry filled chocolate from my secret stash… and then another. Yes, dear readers, I’m typing this with still-sticky fingers. I’m living the very paradigm I’ve spent a lifetime trying desperately to escape. And I ask myself… What effect does environment really have, on our identities, our actions, our morale? Maybe we are not so independent of circumstance? Maybe my day job is more than a time ticker? Maybe you and I are risking more of ourselves than we realize? So let’s do something radical this weekend. You and me. Pinky swear…