Increasing your health at any time can be a struggle. Increasing your health when working in your home office can be even more so. Here are many points you can work to incorporate into your office life. From your physical to your mental outlook all have a bearing on how healthy you feel. These can start off as little and to bigger changes which can make a difference to your overall health and outlook. Some of us may have previously worked in an outside environment but now have to work at home with the current world health situation. It can take some adjusting. (Header Image: (Nordic Desk Flower Ceramic Vase)
Take slow steps here and there to start incorporating these and other things you come across to help you feel better with yourself and in yourself!
Periodically open your window A room can quickly get the “stale air” feel. Whether fall (autumn) or summer try and work in opening your window at least 3 to 4 times per day or have a window further away from your office permanently open. Even opened a little. Some have opened them with snow on the ground! Indoor Air Pollution is a real issue. Keeping your health in the home office is of paramount importance just with this small inclusion. A small Harvard study saw a worrying link between the normal door air and cognitive ability. Double the cognitive ability was for those with well-ventilated offices! That is also not including allergy issues, physical fatigue, and headaches.
I first came across Dr. Bill Wolverton and his study with astronauts in space a few decades ago. The astronauts were heavily exposed to the negative effect of full-on indoor air pollution in space. With his background in plants, he was able to share how plants had a positive effect on their situation. Reducing indoor air pollution to increase office health is a big deal.
Plants are an easy safe solution. One plant every 100 square feet or just over 9 square metres. One thing I do is change my plants periodically and put them outside. I do this around every 1 to 2 weeks in exchange for other plants. This way the plants get a chance to "de-tox" and is my way of evaluating their needs too. One of my favorites is Mother in Law’s tongue which gives off oxygen 24 hours per day and is good to absorb CO2 in your bedroom before you even get to the office! Don’t over-water! My mistake and I killed this hardy plant once. Easy ones I use are Devil’s Ivy, Spider Plant, Cast Iron plant and English Ivy to name a few of the mostly "indestructible"
Color you feel comfortable in and which effects your state of mind is a plus in your office. If you cannot change the color of your wall or walls – consider having elements with that color in your office. Teal and greens work for me with a slight dash of pink. But I do change it with different environments I go into. Slightly off-white or pale yellow works for me too.
This article on color choices may give you some insight The main thing is that it helps you concentrate, helps with productivity and relaxing, yet helps you focus. All these add up to “Office health” Take a step back from your office to see the color combinations you have going on and work on making it as good as you are able.
While essential oils have the ability to help with focus and concentration it is also good to take a break from them. Having them as a “constant” can be an issue with desensitization.
However in a good dose in the morning I include Tea Tree, Varying Citrus also one at a time such as Tangerine, Lime or Mandarin. Cypress is another I like to help with alertness. There are many more you can choose from and here you can find many to chcose from also. These can also be used in a diffuser per the Section at the beginning of this article. I pop Rose Geranium or Lavender however on the inside of my toilet roll cardboard (you can put it anywhere you carry out ablutions) when I retreat to the bathroom (toilet). You have a break from your alertness oils to have a soft sweet smelling break from your work-flow. Geranim oil is apparently good for mood enhancement, the lessening of fatigue and the promotion of emotional wellness
Set aside time at the beginning of your day for an input of the Spiritual. God has many promises to help direction, your mindset, and promises for when things don’t go to plan. If you have Faith in other directions you will realize that there is much benefit in caring for the Spiritual needs of the human person – others and yourself. We are made to care and look out for others. Make that part of your day - every day - and benefit from the many rewards even those intangible.
Music can make the heart sing so make the most of it. That being said also have a time of quietness in your office space. Music can help you focus, concentrate and study but do remember it is personal taste and you can find something that is great for one person may very well be annoying for another. I consider music a Brain food well under-estimated by many.
Turn down the brightness of your computer screen. This can particularly apply if you find yourself working at night. Also if you wear glasses and don’t have the anti-glare capacity provided by an Optometrist when they are prescription ones. If you are doing computer work before the light of sunrise or after sunset consider f.lux. This program automatically dims your screen for night hours on your preset location. It seems well-known that night-time computer work effects sleep hormones because of the light given out by your screen. Choose the next best thing and have the dimming be automatic so you have one less thing to plan for.
Go away from your computer for your lunch. Simple but it is quite a good reminder to help your office health. It is a break and a relax. Don’t over-estimate it and be aware of the taxing effect of not having a break.
Why - Healthy food of course! This seems a no-brainer but it is something you will find helps with many things to do with your health including – clear mindedness, focus, and concentrating ability.
Consider as much raw food as you are able. Don’t just think juicing is the “bee’s knees” either. Actually munch and crunch. Your body is made for that and it will help you slow your life down. You can get more things done with the “tortoise and the hare” mentality. One of my favorite stories in teaching that slow and steady wins the race. Have prepared food – early in the morning (no longer) – keeping it as simple as possible. Complex mixtures of food can effect clear mindedness as oxygen goes from the brain to clear the heavy burden put upon it.
Limit the brown drinks or avoid altogether. I watch trends come and go and stay apart as I watch the reasoning behind them or who is promoting them. I have had issues with “brown” drinks not only because of the processing and additives but because of their “mood” effects and what they do to our bodies. This has a carry on effect. Coffee can deplete magnesium which can have a follow-on effect of agitation, lack of clear-mindedness, anxiety and more. Tea canlimit iron absorption among other issues so be sparing of the amount you do drink. Colas are very well known for not having any health benefit so I’d like any comments if you think they do have some!
Our bodies cry out for water for many of our organ's sake. Think of it as having a shower on the inside. You wouldn’t have a shower in a soft drink or sugared cuppa would you? The kidneys have a love affair with water. Do make this a number one in your healthy office lifestyle agenda. I keep two glasses full on an extension to my desk – not having it too close to items on my desk. Make the water – a choice of one that is the best you have available.
As the years go by gravity does its work on our body but particularly our posture. Our shoulders will tend to slump. Here are a few exercises that I include in my weekly routine and as often as I think of it between other daily exercises If you want to have a bit of techno then maybe you might consider a reminder. This reminder is in the form of letting you know when you are slouching is the Lumo lift Slumping leads to shallow breathing with all its problematic issues. Having as much oxygen as possible makes for a boost to your health.
Do some light exercise during the day at your desk. I have weights at my desk and use a habit tracker in my Bullet Journal to keep me up to speed. Find a regime that works for you. Exercise helps with circulation when your blood flow concentrates in your head with mental work. Remember if you are starting any program that is new do check for professional input.
Staying in the one position often doing repetitive movements isn’t conducive to good health. There are a variety of stretches you can experiment with. Here are some to try that are said to help boost work efficiency. Try and memorize your routine. Also, consider changing once you have mastered one routine to keep your interest up.
Actually set aside 3 to 5 minutes with a range of music that gets your blood pumping. It is actually something you’ll find doable and that it has many benefits. It is an optional extra for those days when you want to have an exercise change or addition.
Oxygen is so very important to good health. One exercise I do (usually first thing in the morning or sometimes at night and outside) is called the Oxygen Cocktail. Start with your arms down and with your hands together in front of you. Raise them up as you breathe in slowly a deep breath. Finish the breath with the arms over your head. Release the breath slowly as you do the opposite sweep of your arms back into the starting position. Repeat 5 to 10 times – whichever you are comfortable with.
If you are feeling anxious about meeting a deadline or about what you aren’t getting done do the following. Take a break and do some kind of moving activity mentioned above. Think about what is the worst thing that can happen. Break your task down to bite size pieces rather than this huge mountain before you. While we can plan – many times things may interrupt or not go to plan. Live with it. Life gets in the way. You can learn to drop the stress about what “has to be done”. There will always be things we can do. Choose wisely the things you do in life. If you find anxiety is something you are not getting on top of – speak to a professional.
Choose to have one day of rest per week. It can take a bit of planning. Allow time for family, prepare some easy meals ahead of time and let technology play second place. I recall the story of a group of soldiers. One lot was to meet another lot at a pre-determined destination. The first lot marched every day without a break. The second lot had one day off every seven days. What was surprising is that the second lot having the weekly break arrived earlier than the first lot of soldiers who went without a break. So my question to you who think “you will be ahead” with continued work “do you think you should try something different?”.
While there is a bit of questioning over whether the Pomodoro method boosts your productivity I will give of my trial of this method. It is spending 52 minutes working and 17 minutes break. I have found that I had a clearer mind with which to tackle work after the 17-minute break. This could mainly I feel because I spend those 17 minutes moving and doing outside activities as well. While I’m not big on a timer to control your every movement – this time I found it to be a bonus since I was encouraged by the results. Worth trying since being clear-minded I feel is a bonus for your health. Try it!
Something simple but not to be over-looked is good old soap and water for your hands. Plus a cleanup for your cell phone, laptop or desktop, and top surfaces. They get constant use almost every day and I think cleanliness can be often overlooked here. Factor in cleaningyour keyboard once to twice per month or even more often.
(The world situation has currently changed since I first wrote this post and the up-date would be having yourself knowledgeable in regards to cleanliness in your office too.)
If you are working in a Home office the temptation can be to dress without too much thought but a good amount of comfort in mind. While tight anything around your midriff is not a good health habit consider dressing to make yourself feel good about what you look like. Consider investing in quality clothing that meets both sides of the coin. There are some excellent comfy slacks/trousers and some beautiful tops that make you feel great. Having a positive mindset about what you are wearing helps you to feel good. Feeling good is the attitude to aim for.
My ergonomic chair is very helpful for my posture and I wouldn’t be without it. I have also spent time doing stand up time with a make-shift stand up desk standing on my yoga mat. I recommend it and have periodic times when I include this in my “office health habits”.
f you want to have “office health” make sure you have sleep. Adequate. Sleep is tied to many rewards including a boost to our immune system and an encouragement for our hormone system. It is tied in with weight loss as well it has been noted.
You may feel that in some areas you may not be doing enough or can think of all the things you think you “should” be doing where health is concerned. Put that aside. Do the best you can do and don’t take others opinions on board unless it is helpful. Dropping the guilt is very much a good “health habit” for having better “office health”. If you find yourself falling into that rut – rise above your feelings and lay them aside. It isn’t productive. Make yourself a tentative list or go over what you would like to prioritize. Be solution oriented not problem oriented.
Factor in time for your mental health - let the world and it's problems be left aside at many times during a day or week. Healthy growth and self examination help you to relax and be calm inside. Choose those things which are good.
There you have it – a lot of the things I like to incorporate and more besides. What ways to you use to increase your health in the home office?
You might like to read: Reasons why All Yogis should be using a Cork Yoga Mat