Working from home has become the norm for many people. However, this means a very foreign landscape for humanity and one that can have severe consequences on our health. Here are some tips to keep you healthy whilst working from home:
1. Movement snacks - our body is designed to move, often and also with some Diversity. Research suggests that regular movement increases immune function, reduces inflammation and also increases longevity. Set up reminders on your phone or computer to take a break and snack on some movement. Some of our favourite movement snacks are deep flat foot squats and practicing getting down and up off the ground. Or set up your workspace with tools such as Limber that allow you to continually snack on movement as you work.
2. Light - Disrupted innate sleep-wake cycles (circadian rhythms) are linked to many diseases and overall immune system function. Research shows that for optimal health most people aren't getting enough light during the day and too much light in the evenings. Try and get at least 10 minutes of sunlight/outdoor time during the day and in the evenings reduce exposure to computers/devices or LED lighting, or you can try using some blue light blocking glasses after the sun goes down. This will help our body clear our stress hormones and produce enough sleep hormones to allow for a good night's sleep. Here is a great podcast on light and its influence on health.
3. Eat - getting a high-quality wholefood diet is essential for optimal health as well as immune function. Research suggests that a diet high in vitamin C, D, Zinc and quercetin may help immune function and overall health. Attain your vitamin C from fresh fruit or berries (frozen blueberries are an easy source) or even better get some quality sauerkraut in your daily diet. Sauerkraut is really high in Vitamin C (it helped prevent James Cook's crew from getting Scurvy because of it!) as well as contains many beneficial and immune-boosting bacteria. Attain vitamin D through oily fish or quality fish oil. Get Quercetin from onions and leeks and Zinc from shellfish (especially oysters), quality red meat or legumes. Here are some quality immune boosting products.
4. 2 before 2 - One easy win is to drink enough water. Keeping adequately hydrated is linked with keeping stress hormones (like cortisol) down, which in turn impacts on immune function. 2 litres by 2pm is a good rule for most as it will prevent you from going to the toilet during the night and disrupting that precious sleep! (apps like Waterlogged or Plant Nanny can be useful tools).
5. Moderate intensity exercise - Getting a daily ‘workout’ in will help boost immunity, reduce inflammation and even increase cognitive function, making you more efficient at work! Research suggests that moderate exercise has the most positive effect on immune function as opposed to longer duration or high intensity which may cause a temporary immune suppression. A good gauge is you can have a light sweat but still just be able to converse. Try the HealthFit Live programme for access to workouts that you can do with no equipment and in your living room!
6. Get outdoors - Research shows that just getting outside in nature has a calming effect on your nervous system and lowers stress hormones, which means in turn you give your immune system the best chance. Multiple studies show that microbes found in soil and on plants are linked to many immune as well as mental health benefits, so get your hands dirty and grow some fresh veggies!
7. Breathe - Bringing some awareness to your breath can alone create a systemic calming effect and bring you into ‘rest and digest’ mode allowing your body to repair and the immune system to work properly. Just by changing the ratio of breath in vs breath out can further enhance this effect - slowing the breath out and breathing at a ratio of 4 seconds breath in to a 6 second breath out. Another technique is coherent breathing or box breathing.
8. Connect - Social connection has been linked in longevity studies to be the most important factor in living a long and happy life. Find ways to connect digitally. Psychology research shows that social media triggers similar biochemical reactions and neurological connections as real life social connections! So do some online chats, hangouts or try out HealthFit Live to experience social connection while moving in their unique live stream classes.
9. Set up your environment to thrive - Cut clutter, add household plants, have furniture that allows good behaviour, healthy food and easy access to clean water and herbal tea will be a good start. Tools like Limber Desk allow you to work and move at the same time and has a natural wood look. All of these elements have been shown to decrease stress and allow for more productivity.
10. Cautious but calm - Follow the recommendations from the professionals around hygiene and social distancing but don’t panic and buy into the hysteria. Research on stress shows us that it's not the stress itself that has harmful effects on our health but the perception of stress itself! Just by bringing awareness to your perception and internal dialogue can change your physiological response!