by Barbara Ficarra
Working from home can be challenging, however it’s possible to stay productive and healthy at home. Indoor spaces can have an affect on your overall health and well-being. Creating spaces that are conducive to a good work environment includes spaces infused with light, nature and air. Furthermore, it’s vital that you focus on your health & wellness needs during your work day. There are simple ways to stay healthy while working from home. As a registered nurse, health educator and health designer™ — here are 4 simple ways to make you and your home office healthier.
Brighten Up — With Lighting
Lighting is important for you and your workspace because it can improve your productivity and well-being. Exposure to natural light at the right time is vital for your natural circadian rhythm. A regular disruption in your circadian system can impact your health, therefore it’s important to keep a regular exposure pattern to light.
Having a space infused with natural light—not only brightens a room, it can brighten a mood, improve learning and help you sleep better because light influences the circadian system. Sunlight exposure has been positively associated to job satisfaction.
Shine Bright — Your Office Space
Natural light is ideal for your home office. The warm glow of sunlight infusing into your work space can enhance your work environment. Place your desk or work station where the natural light infuses from the side or in front of you. However, depending on your space, this may not be possible. Position your desk or work station wherever it fits best in your space.
In addition to natural light, brighten up your workspace, with task and ambient lighting.
Use energy efficient bulbs. Lumens (brightness levels) are important, not the watts–according to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website: more lumens equal a brighter light. So their rule of thumb is, “To replace a 100 watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens.” So how many lumens do you need? Well, it’s calculated by the number of square feet. Home Depot offers this quick guide. [Not an ad].
According to the Home Depot guide, it’s recommended that a home office has 6,000 to 8,000 lumens; however it depends on the size of your office space.
During the day, make sure you take regular breaks and expose yourself to the light outdoors and move your body. Go outside for a calming walk, eat lunch outside, meditate outdoors, stretch or do yoga. It’s critical that you get out of your chair and get some fresh air and light.
Biophilic Design: Infuse Your Space With Nature
Biophilia simply means interacting or being closely associated with nature. Research shows that being exposed to nature can benefit your health and well-being.
Bring the outdoors in with greenery. Bring nature into your home by adding plants. Decorate your office with plants. Plants can help decrease stress; which is noted in this study and plants can help improve air quality.
There are certain plants that help improve air quality by removing indoor air toxins—such as the spider plant, mother-in-law’s tongue (snake plant), aloe vera, peace lily and golden pothos. Mix it up with other plants that you love. The monstera plant or a fiddle leaf fig is a great choice because it has large beautiful green leaves that gives your living space an extra boost of greenery. Research also shows that exposure to natural environments can help your ability to cope with stress. Observing nature can help improve productivity, reduce stress and help restore concentration.
It appears from the research that interacting with nature can offer positive effects on health and well-being.
The Air We Breathe
While research suggests that certain plants can help improve air quality—another effective way to improve your air quality that eliminates toxins is by using air purifiers (PDF). The EPA recommends to choose a portable air cleaner “that has a clean air delivery rate (CADR) (PDF) that is large enough for the size of the room or area in which you will use it.” To filter gases, choose a portable air cleaner with an activated carbon filter or other filter designed to remove gases.
“A portable air cleaner with a high CADR and an activated carbon filter can filter both particles and gases.” – EPA website
Inadequate ventilation, humidity and high temperatures can lead to indoor air pollution.
Open Up the Windows and Let the Fresh Air In
To improve your indoor air, increase the amount of fresh air to help reduce indoor pollutants. If the outdoor air quality is good and weather permits—open up the windows and doors.
- Open up the windows
- Use kitchen and bathroom fans that exhaust to the outdoors
- Run an air conditioner that has a vent control
- Make sure you clean or change the filters regularly for central heating and air conditioners.
- Since indoor humidity can contribute to indoor air pollution—keep humidity between 30 and 50 percent.
MOVE, MOVE, MOVE Your Body
As mentioned above, during the work day, it’s important to take breaks and move your body.
Staying physically active is one of the most important actions you can take to stay healthy or improve your health.
Take 5 or 10 minute activity breaks. This simple short actions will get your body moving. Move away from your desk and move your body.
Here are some simple suggestions to get you started:
- Take a quick walk
- Jump Rope
- Jumping Jacks
- Hula Hoop
While these quick activities can get your body moving during the work day, it’s important to stay active.
So how much physical activity is recommended?
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition —it’s recommended each week adults get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity for substantial health benefits.
Here are some simple ideas to get you moving include:
- Go on a nature hike
- Take a walk in the park
Find what you love and make it part of your healthy lifestyle. Moving your body is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy.
These are 4 simple ways to make you and your home office healthier. We’d love to see your healthy home office photos. Use the hashtag #healthyhomeofficehealthyme and post on Instagram and Facebook.
While working from home can be challenging, embrace it with some positive healthy design tips. Make you and your home office healthier. Let the sunshine in. Open the windows, add plants to your work space, use an air purifier. Use task lightening and take frequent breaks and move your body—get out of your chair. Take a walk outside, eat lunch outside, stretch or even do a 5 minute yoga—And, to reap the rewards of physical activity—healthy body, healthy mind—continue to move your body—aim for 30 minutes, five days a week for moderate exercise.
4 Simple Ways to Make You and Your Home Office Healthier