Searching for handy stress relief at work desk tools? Look no further than your local plant nursery!

When work has your head in the wrong place, and you can't seem to shake off the pressure, it’s time to find an antidote.

You've tried keeping a Dammit Doll around but got a little self-conscious about having a voodoo version of Gumby as a cubicle-mate. Adult coloring works until someone drops by and sees your hands full of crayons on the clock.

You need something to bust your stress discreetly. So what might make the perfect down-low stress-relief desk tool?

Hint: It’s ALIVE.

If you’ve ever had the urge to go outside and sit in the woods when you’re overwhelmed, you’re not alone—in today’s world, we don’t get nearly enough nature exposure to maintain our mental health.

An empirical study found that reflecting on nature led to “a general sense of connectedness to other people, to nature, and to life as a whole.” The idea is that experiencing the great outdoors helps develop the ability to move outside of our thoughts and emotions and simply be present.

But you don’t have to go on a hike to reflect on nature, flex your mindfulness muscle, and bust work stress. Some relief may be as simple as buying a cute little succulent and potting it up on your desk!

Potted plants are the new moving meditation. And the research seems to support buying out the IKEA garden center for your cubicle — so, why not?

Green life is a great desk tool for stress relief at work

As humans, we've always known that getting close to nature makes us feel better on an intuitive level. But recently, we have empirical support that this could be true for office workers who keep potted plants on their desks.

In a 2020 study, a group of office workers chose an indoor plant to keep near their desk monitor. Each individual had the opportunity to:

  • See the plant while working
  • Actively look at the plant
  • Care for the plant

The researchers concluded that “placing small plants within close sight contributed to psychological stress reduction,” according to PsychCentral.

What counts as “experiencing nature” with a potted plant?

“How do I experience a potted plant?”you may ask yourself. Great question!

To reap the benefits of nature from the comfort of your cubicle, all you need to do is keep a plant near your PC, so it’s within your field of vision.

It doesn’t matter what type of plant you pick (we recommend succulents because they don't die too easily) or whether you ever do anything but look at it. You don’t have to pet your cactus or have a heart-to-heart conversation with it!

Just keep your leafy companion where you can see him and toss him some water now and then. For bonus points, take a moment to actively look at your green BFF and appreciate the natural fractals of its leaves, its tenacity to survive 24/7 office life, and the simple miracle of biological design that allows it to exist.

Got the opposite of a green thumb? Try these everlasting stress relief at work desk tools

Have you killed every plant you’ve ever had, including the immortal and unkillable pothos? We’re pretty sure you can handle one of these succulent varieties. For most, all you have to do is give ‘em some light, dip your finger in the soil once a week to check for moisture, and add a couple of ounces of water if it feels dry.

These are our favorite ultra-hardy desk succulents:

Agave spp., the century plant

Agave plants are known for maturing over many decades and then dying immediately upon making seed pods (how dramatic!)

Despite this flair for the dramatic, agave tends to be a pretty easygoing and impossible-to-kill-before-its-time desk plant.

Just get ready to transplant it outside in a decade when it grows up! Depending on the type, century plants can grow anywhere from 1 to 10 feet in bothdimensions. Got a 20-foot-square desk footprint?

Aloe vera

Aloe is best known for the cooling gel that you can squeeze from its leaves. According to the National Institute of Health, research suggests that aloe vera:

  • “May speed burn healing”
  • “May reduce pain from burns”
  • “May help people with herpes simplex, lichen planus, or psoriasis”

Possible benefits aside, aloe vera is used to dry climates. So, it’s a great perpetual desk buddy (even if you forget to quench its thirst now and then).

Crassula ovata, the jade plant

Jade plants are the dinner party trick of houseplants. They don’t look easy to care for, but all they need is minimal water and protection from the cold (they hate being below 50 degrees Fahrenheit).

Jade plants’ waxy, lush oval leaves and woody stems give them a Forbidden Forest vibe. You half expect an ornery branch to reach out and knock your smartphone out of your hand!

These little succulents start off small, but they can reach over three feet with years of minimal care! (You some time with your jade buddy as a desk plant before you have to worry about that.)

Kalanchoe tomentosa, the panda plant

If you want every coworker to stop by your desk and ask, “what the heck is that!?” then a panda plant is for you.

The panda plant has a super fuzzy lamb’s ear appearance — we dare you to resist reaching out and rubbing a leaf between your fingers! You might just melt into a puddle, it’s so soft and velvety.

Plus, the panda plant is awesome at storing water, so it happily survives weekend and holiday droughts at your desk.

Sempervivum tectorum, or “hens and chicks”

As cool as Sempervivum tectorum feels coming out of your mouth, these cutesy succulents live up to their common name. Each plant starts as a “hen,” or a parent rosette, and baby “chicks” spring up as offshoots all around the hens.

You can let the chicks grow in all around the hens and embrace the chaos, or replant them to start their own little plant families. It can take a few years for the hens to flower, but they’ll keep growing and making chicks in the meantime!

Hemp isn’t exactly a desk plant … but it sure is a handy desk tool for stress relief at work!

Don’t put hemp on your desk unless you want an awkward visit from HR. (You could legally put hemp on your desk, but your coworkers won’t necessarily know that it ain’t the other thing …)

The plant may not be a desktop companion, but it produces cannabidiol, one of the most famous cannabinoids that you’ve probably seen infused into gummies or oils. And if that cactus isn’t completely keeping your stress down at work, a little CBD could help you relax and embrace the tiny slice of nature in front of you.

Plants aren’t the only desk tool for stress relief at work, even though they’re pretty compelling!

Stack up your options for mellowing out your workday and avoiding burnout by using (legal, 100% work-friendly) full-spectrum CBD oil. You might even appreciate your perennial deskmate on a whole new level!

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