It is safe to say that most working professionals have either stayed home or worked remotely significantly more over the past year. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many companies to require and mandate working from home not knowing the extent of how implementing working virtually over an extended period of time will impact productivity, lifestyle, and team-work. The Global Employee Health Study Data conducted by Aetna International showed that working remotely has had negative long-term effects on employee’s physical (weight gain, neck, and low back pain) and mental health (depression, stress, fatigue), but have also helped employees acknowledge the importance of their overall health.1
Personally, I have learned that working remotely has significantly and negatively affected my mental health when my physical environment is void of friendships, sunlight, and outdoor activities. I remember experiencing a period of depression and a lack of motivation. Netflix became a dangerously close friend. However, as a health coach, I remember learning about primary foods and secondary foods. Primary foods are factors that bring meaning to our soul and include things such as: fulfilling work, meaningful relationships, healthy finances, physical movement, spiritual practice, self-care, etc. Secondary foods are the traditional factors that include dietary and nutritional needs for our survival including macro and micronutrients. As a result of learning and understanding primary versus secondary foods, I started incorporating more primary foods to bring more joy into my home-working environment. This blog outlines some ideas that have worked for me in the past year and I hope they work for you too!
1. Make the time to schedule a group video call with friends or family
With our social interactions kept to a minimum the last year, I have found it extremely valuable to make the time to schedule group calls with the people that I care about and people that care about me. Pandemic or not, making the time for group video calls or any other social activity needs to be scheduled. Why? It’s been proven time and time again that social interaction is a critical contributor to physical and mental health and longevity. A study published by The New England Journal of Medicine found that among 2,320 male survivors of heart attacks, those with stronger social connections compared to those that lacked social connections had a quarter risk of death within the following three year.2 Furthermore, another study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found that people who lack quality social interaction have a greater risk of physical diseases including, “development and progression of cardiovascular disease, recurrent myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, autonomic dysregulation, high blood pressure, cancer and delayed cancer recovery, and slower wound healing.”3 By nurturing your social self, you will not only benefit from being more joyful but also benefit physically and mentally!
Here are some suggestions to spice up your group video calls and other social interaction with friends or family:
- Find a delicious recipe and cook a meal together
- Visit/explore a new area and share what you experienced
- Watch a great TV show together and talk about it
- Play a virtual board game together (Jackbox Games offer a wide variety of games that can include as many as a dozen participants)
- Plan a fun exercise or meditation session
2. Purposely incorporate natural elements into your surroundings
There is a reason why almost every design magazine, website, or publication incorporates natural elements. Ancient and modern science including Feng Shui, Ayurveda and yoga point to the benefits of using natural elements to elevate our mood, emotion, and well-being. In Japanese culture, forest bathing or, shinrin-yoku, is a way people bridge the gap between our world and the natural world. The key to incorporating natural elements comes from the benefits of negative ions. Think about the last time you felt when you were surrounded by nature: at the beach, strolling in a park, or sitting by some water. In natural environments, your body is being charged with negative ions which help you feel connected and happy.4 By balancing your environment with nature, you naturally facilitate an increase in your mental clarity, energy, and tranquility. Furthermore, with the significant increase in EMF produced by all our electronic devices, a review by Martin L. Pall, published by the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, linked the negative neuropsychiatric effects (also known as microwave syndrome) EMF has on our health including, “sleep disturbance/insomnia, headache, depression/depressive symptoms, fatigue/tiredness, dysesthesia, concentration/attention dysfunction, memory changes, dizziness, irritability, loss of appetite/body weight, restlessness/anxiety, nausea, skin burning/tingling/dermographism, and EEG changes.”5 I have listed a couple of ideas for you below to immediately bring more joy, peace, and clarity into your home-working environment!
Here are some suggestions to include natural elements into your environment:
- Shop and support a local plant store (plants give off a natural compound called phytoncides which supports the immune system!)
- Allow more natural light into your workspace
- Hang up a piece of artwork featuring a part of nature you connect with
- Buy reclaimed furniture from an eco-friendly store
- Schedule a cold shower mid-day
- Collect some beach pebbles or shells (if accessible) and use them purposefully in your workspace
3. Delve into the world of sound therapy
Sound therapy has been around since the ancient Greeks to cure mental diseases, decrease stress and anxiety, elevate mood and boost morale. Gongs have been used since 4000 BC as a form of sound healing and continue to be used today in Asian culture. Think of the last time you listened to your favorite song or the time when you heard a song that exactly resonated with your situation. How good did it make you feel? Malbert Lee, a Hong Kong-based Crystal Bowl and Gong Master says, “The adult body is 75% water, and water is a great conductor for sound vibration,” he notes. “When vibrations travel through the body, they promote circulation, energy flow, and rejuvenation. The frequency of the sound synchronizes with the brainwaves and activates distress responses in the body.” 6 Experiencing the benefits of sound healing can be achieved through the use of instruments and sounds from Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, binaural beats, and vocal toning. I have outlined a couple of simple ways to help you get started!
Here are some suggestions to include sound therapy into your environment:
- Utilize Spotify to listen to therapeutic sounds you can play in the background while you work (I personally love the Binaural Beats!)
- Follow a video on YouTube on chanting mantras to heal different areas of your body (specific tones are linked to particular Chakras of the area of the body)
- If you’re feeling adventurous, you may purchase a Tibetan singing bowl or a Gong and practice using it during your break or before/after work
While there are dozens of more ways to enliven your home-working environment, I hope these 3 immediate ways serve as a good introduction for you to practice. Feel free to let me know which way helped in the comments below! I would love to hear your experience with how you are bringing more joy into your home-working environment!
Hi, I’m Joshua! I’m in the business of optimizing the health and wellness of motivated individuals. I took three years off before going to college. During that time I served in the military and police force, traveled, discovered my passions and interests, and developed my sense of identity. I’ve found that I thoroughly enjoy novel experiences and engaging with a variety of cultures. I believe that there are no limits to what you can experience as long as you stay laser curious. Currently, I’m pursuing a doctorate degree in Physical Therapy. I’m a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, which enabled me to be a part of the growing movement of preventative healthcare and holistic living. Furthermore, I’m passionate about entrepreneurship and learning how creative business models can improve healthcare. I try my best to live an active lifestyle and engage my creative side through content creation. I’m also a contributing writer for Startup Island: The Business of Being Happy and Healthy. If you would like to connect with me, feel free to reach out via my social media platforms!
1Global Employee Health Study Data 2020, Aetna International, Nov. 2020, www.aetnainternational.com/content/dam/aetna/pdfs/aetna-international/Explorer/Global-Employee-Health-Study-Data.pdf.
2Ruberman, William, et al. “Psychosocial Influences on Mortality after Myocardial Infarction.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 311, no. 9, 1984, pp. 552–559., doi:10.1056/nejm198408303110902.
3Umberson, Debra, and Jennifer Karas Montez. “Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 51, no. 1_suppl, 2010, doi:10.1177/0022146510383501.
4Jiang, Shu-Ye, et al. “Negative Air Ions and Their Effects on Human Health and Air Quality Improvement.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 19, no. 10, 2018, p. 2966., doi:10.3390/ijms19102966.
5Pall, Martin L. “Microwave Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) Produce Widespread Neuropsychiatric Effects Including Depression.” Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, vol. 75, 21 Aug. 2015, pp. 43–51., doi:10.1016/j.jchemneu.2015.08.001.
6Bhaumik, Gayatri. “Sound Healing Explained – How It Works and Health Benefits.” Destination Deluxe, 8 June 2021, destinationdeluxe.com/sound-healing-health-benefits.