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Bright Ideas For A Greener, More Relaxed Office

On those tension-filled afternoons, perhaps when you feel a headache coming on, take a deep breath and reach for your personal stress relief arsenal, such as the Office Stress Relief Therapy Pack Set (and maybe a cup of herbal tea). Other admin tools to make the day easier include natural desk lighting, smooth writing pen, Earth-friendly organizing and a classic travel mug for your afternoon drink of choice.

Office Stress Relief Therapy Pack Set

This eye-catching set of handmade comfort packs easily stores in your desk drawer and provides either heat or cold therapy for natural and soothing pain relief, while you continue to work. Each beanbag-type pack is filled with flaxseed and rice, custom made by entrepreneur Sally Ferris Miller. With many fabrics to choose from, I chose the black-and-white checked version for work. The office pack set includes: a wrist rest for the keyboard and square pad support for mouse functions, eye pillow packs for sinus or migraine pain and a universal size neck wrap to relief tension in the neck and shoulders. Packs can be heated in the microwave at 20-second interval to create warm, soothing heat at the designated area. In addition, packs can be stored in the freezer when cooling relief is preferred.

Throughout the year, I routinely used a heated neck wrap to help relax shoulder and neck muscles. Sally’s products feel custom-sized to my neck, fitting securely over my collarbones, as opposed to a previous generic version hot/cold pack from a local Walgreen’s, which would slide off periodically. Packs are quick and easy to microwave. After heating a total of two minutes in the microwave, you’ll have soothing heat for 30 minutes or more. I found the keyboard wrist rest support (a rectangular pack the length of the keyboard) to be comfortable whether heated or not. The mouse pad pack keeps the wrist level, minimizing strain that can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome. With support and comfort during hours of keyboarding, your wrists and hands will notice the welcome relief.

During colder months, or with too much office air conditioning, foot packs are effective for tired achy feet. While not an official element of the Office Stress Relief Therapy Pack Set, Sally sent me a test pair. The insole-like packs heat in 15-20 second intervals, then simply place your bare or stocking feet directly on top …Ah-ha, very happy feet indeed! Find out more at www.HotColdComfort.com

Easy On Eyes—Lamp Designed by Science

Lighting is critical in keeping our eyes healthy, especially at work. Choose lighting that simulates natural light with energy efficiency. One lamp that works well is the Berkeley Lamp II, developed by Full Spectrum Solutions, FSS, in partnership with the California Lighting Technology Center at the University of California, with support from California utilities and the U.S. Department of Energy. This lamp style was developed as a high-quality, energy efficient alternative to overhead lighting, which can be stressful on the eyes during the workday. This desk lighting system increases visibility while reducing energy use by allowing the overhead lighting system to be turned down or off and works well for computer tasks. Find out more at www.fullspectrumsolutions.com.

Personally, I’ve been illuminating up my home office with BlueMax lighting since 2009. In fact, I recently purchased another gooseneck style lamp for my oldest son to take back to college for those late study nights. Not only is it easy on the eyes, but also reduces stress as the ambient light creates a softer mood. The Berkeley II style combines both task and ambient lighting under one shade. It has the added convenience of a bonus 120v power outlet at the base of the lamp, along with dimming technology that adjusts each of the two blubs independently from 100 percent down to 20 percent. Find out more at www.bluemaxlighting.com.

Avant Pens

For critical meetings when you need a decent writing utensil, try Avant pens a new line of sleek-looking writing pens. Each pen family features exceptional design elements to provide smooth writing for under $10. Qualities you’ll love include:

  • Modern design and solid build
  • Stylish grips for comfort while writing
  • Point size from fine-to-bold without smudging
  • Interchangeable ink refills for use in all Avant pens
  • Refills available in black, blue and red SilkScribe ink and gel inks

Visit www.Staples.com/avant for more information.

Better Binder

Nowadays, most of our schedules and calendars are online or in the palm of our hand, yet we still find uses for binder notebooks. Just when you think a simple notebook binder can’t be improved, the Better binder shows up for a faster, easier way to store, organize and archive paper files. This one allows you to do your organizing with removable FileRings keeping records simple and efficient from notebook to filing system. Binder retail price $12.99 and FileRings price, $4.99 at Staples.

Key features include:

  • Ultra-durable, versatile and guaranteed for life
  • Reusable, reinforced shell with poly covers and a durable, flexible, rubberized spine and edges to withstand heavy use without splitting; strong, easy-to-open rings
  • Allows storage of notes, files or financial documents in less space
  • FileRings detach from the binder shell with a single slide, extending the ends to hang in any standard filing cabinet or box
  • Inside pockets for storage and organization
  • Label ring provides for easy identification of files
  • Binder shell can be recycled
  • Standard binders come in a variety of colors and capacities, mini binders and dividers; one inch size available in black, white, red and blue

Sustainable Earth Products

In celebration of Earth Day, I tried several organizing tools by Sustainable Earth via Staples, which uses recycled materials in their product line. For example, sugarcane-based paper products come from sugarcane rather than trees, using a significantly shorter growth timeframe, therefore, kinder to the Earth.

Sugarcane-Based Notebook—I like the smaller version spiral notebook, nice for jotting down notes like remembering passwords and reminders-to -self to add to the office Outlook Calendar. In addition to notebooks, sugarcane-based copy paper is also available—an item to remember next time you reorder office supplies.

Other Sustainable Earth products reviewed  include: a colorful, green mouse pad made of 75 percent recycled tire rubber; stapler with a100 percent recycled casing; patterned paperboard clipboard for keeping a list of my latest assignments due; and, for tax season, a solar powered calculator also with a 100 percent recycled casing. Plus, I added more organization to my workspace using multi-color push pins and large paper clips.

Sipp Stainless Steel Travel Mug by Thermos

Take this shiny 16-ounce mug on the go or keep it at your desk for water, a cup of Joe or afternoon herbal tea to go along with your heated neck wrap. Advantages of this stylish mug include:

  • leak-proof lid and one-touch operation prevents spills between sips
  • convenience for hot or cold beverages on the go, including a built-in tea-bag hook in the lid
  • BPA-free stainless-steel construction; double-wall insulation keeps contents hot for five hours or cold for nine hours
  • sleek and slender design fits most auto cup holders; dishwasher-safe; looks attractive on your desk   

Deborah Mangiamele is a freelance writer and editor based in Rochester, New York.