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Office stress busters.

Chuck Hook of Carmel's Fish Warehouse says customers often come to him already convinced that fish in aquariums have stress- reducing potential. The bulk of Hook's clients are in the medical profession--perhaps they have insiders' knowledge about the effects of watching fish. Fish in waiting rooms are attractions that keep patients from becoming impatient. Similarly, fish can entertain people waiting for business appointments or hoping to get a table soon in restaurants.

Freestanding tanks start at $750 at Fish Warehouse. Tanks built into a wall, and holding 500 gallons, could run as high as $6,000. Caring for the system can be a no-stress deal with professional maintenance available.

A fountain is another soothing water idea. John Peaslee, assistant professor of consumer science and retailing at Purdue University in West Lafayette, says both the sight and the sound of the water have stress-easing appeal.

Muzak has a program designed to alleviate stress, says Carl Heck of Comcast Sound Communications in Indianapolis. Studies have pinpointed the stress-causing elements in music, and Muzak avoids them. For instance, there is no minor-mode music such as the kind often found in sad love songs.

Heck's company also supplies sound masking, or white noise, tailored to the work environment. Such masking can give workers privacy, as well as cutting fatiguing background noise. White noise is similar to what you hear between stations on a radio.

More ideas come from David Eastman, training specialist in human resources at Indiana University, Bloomington. He suggests "things to make the office less antiseptic," mentioning toys such as yo-yos and darts. (Careful with that last one.)

Some people, he says, feel negative-ion machines help by giving air that good feeling we experience after a rain shower--when the air is full of negative ions--as compared with the restlessness sensed when a storm approaches and positive ions prevail. Other people believe in full-spectrum lighting, which is clearer and brighter, more like natural sunlight.

Computer screen savers relax some workers, but Eastman says others hate those moving patterns. In his own office, he has one almost plain wall to face for relaxation. He uses another wall packed with photos, souvenirs and more fun items for stimulation.

Our last resource may tickle you, literally. New office footrests have ribbed surfaces which invite you to kick off shoes and reduce stress by massaging your feet.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Keaton, Joanne
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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