There are times in life when you just need to give yourself a break. For example, during the 3rd national lockdown of a pandemic. That said, it's also important to recognise the significance of health - both physical & mental - when it comes to dealing with circumstances like these.
So, if you're currently feeling highly energised & motivated to take control of your lifestyle - but aren't exactly sure how to do so - you'll want to keep on reading.
Here's 4 simple yet highly effective tips for optimising your well-being while working from home.
These days it’s hardly uncommon to spend an entire day doing almost nothing but sitting & staring at a screen. I doubt it comes as a surprise to you that doing this for long stretches of time is pretty shitty for both your body & mind.
So, move. Through frequent & various movement you’ll improve the strength of muscles, tendons, joints & connective tissue, helping you to continue to move pain-free & without injury. You’ll remain in connection with your body. It lowers cortisol levels, something which is incredibly significant to the modern-day chronic-stress lifestyle.
What's more movement enhances your cognitive performance (via the increased production of Brained Derived Neurotrophic Factor - known as BDNF). Whether it's via your ability to learn, memorise, focus, or think creatively, you'll become more productive at whatever you do.
When it comes to exactly what movement you should be doing, there's no exact prescription. Do whatever you enjoy & keeps you moving. It could be yoga, running, tai-chi, whatever works for you.
What I will say is that anyone who values their well-being will recognise the importance of strength training. Knowing how to strength train safely, effectively & efficiently is super important - this is where the value of working with a coach who can create an individualised, effective, & efficient home training programme really comes in.
At the very least look to break up your day with short bouts of movement - walks every 30 minutes (even just around the house), 5 minutes of mobility exercises every now and again. Movement throughout the day.
Think about it like this. When it comes to hydration, you don’t simply chug 3 litres of water all in one-go first thing in the morning do you? If your a normal human being, you spread it out across the day. Approach movement the same way. Move throughout the day, not just during an intense hour of exercise, with nothing during the other 23.
And if you're looking for a quick & effective way to kickstart your mornings with some movement, check out my 5-minute guided morning mobility flow here.
Rest your Eyes.
I think we’re all pretty aware that staring at a screen all day is hardly the best thing you can do for your health.
Yet for a lot of us, it's central to both our working life & down time.
Not only does the blue light emitted from screens disrupt your circadian rhythms, - biological clocks that are responsible for healthy regulation of hormones & general well-being - but it also pretty much fries your nervous system leaving you in a state of chronic stress.
So to keep your nervous system, hormones, stress levels, & eye health in check, you’ve got to be willing to step away from the screen and look out into the distance frequently.
Looking out into the distance (ideally into nature) causes the ciliary muscles of the eyes to relax, in-turn activating the parasympathetic - the rest & digest - branch of the autonomic nervous system. You'll experience less stress, less strain & damage to your eyes.
If you can’t get out, even just look out of the window for a couple of minutes every 15-20 minutes.
Spending time in natural environments is such a crucial element to our health. It’s important to remember that it’s only in the last couple of hundred years that have humans become truly disconnected from nature - we’ve destroyed it in the process of building these hyper-stimulating urban environments that the majority of us live in today.
Plenty of studies have now shown the impact that time in nature has upon mental wellbeing - anxiety, depression, stress.
Essentially, being in nature activates the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system. It allows you to briefly step away from the incessant hum-drum of modern life & appreciate how irrelevant a lot of things really are.
One showed that after a 90 minute walk participants had lower activity in their prefrontal cortex, a brain region active during rumination (repetitive thoughts focused on negative emotions).
Even just the sounds & silence of nature has been shown to lower blood pressure & reduce cortisol levels. So, if you really aren’t able to get out to nature, then the next best thing is to bring nature indoors. Get yourself some plants/flowers, images of naturalistic outdoor landscapes, play naturalistic sounds.
Take time to Eat.
During hectic times it's easy to mindlessly throw meals together before wolfing them down as quickly as possible, just so that you can get back to work.
This really isn't how our body was designed to operate.
Eating in this stressed-out (sympathetic-dominant) state is unsurprisingly not a good thing. In this state digestion is put on standby - meaning not only are you more likely to experience digestive issues, but also that your body will be unable to extract the full nutritional value of the food you take in.
So, give yourself enough time to eat & actually enjoy the process of preparing & consuming your meals.
Before each meal, put work & any other distractions to one-side & take a few deep breaths to allow your parasympathetic nervous system to take-over.
Rather than viewing eating as something you need to get done simply to satisfy hunger, view it as an opportunity to nourish your body & optimise your health.
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