Seeing how our overall quality of life improves when we implement tiny wellness habits into our everyday routine is fulfilling. We have more energy, are more present in our relationships, and improve our work and personal performance. The positive effects of wellness on us go across all aspects of our lives. Therefore, it is natural and inspiring at the same time to witness more households and companies today investing in enhancing physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing and implementing best practices across the work and home office spaces. This is then directly linked to better engagement, productivity, and performance.
Some companies, such as Binah.ai, use artificial intelligence and low-end cameras to remotely monitor respiration rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and mental stress levels.
How we could implement wellness physically, cognitively, and mentally.
1. Your desk is a mini gym.
While working at your desk, perform simple exercises and stretches every hour. Sit on a Bosu ball instead of your usual chair; the screen should be at eye level. Place the hands on the back of your head; bring your elbows together to open your chest. Bend your head back and forward to align the neck.
For those tired and painful feet, especially when running in high heels daily, keep a basket underneath your desk where you place one or two tennis balls and roll them once or twice during office hours under your feet. This is a simple yet effective way to alleviate foot pain and even pain extending to the lower back.
2. Your walls are a relaxing zone.
Choose wall colours that will relax and ease your mind for your office desk. Looking at the green colour will give your eyes a break and calm you emotionally. Considering that yellow and green, at the top of the visible spectrum, are most accessible for our eyes to see and process, keep a piece of art or a painting of nature that you can look at. If you spend all day working on your computer and your free time on your mobile device, remember to blink frequently during screen time and after every 20 minutes spent staring at the screen, look away for 20 seconds. Having the image of nature will allow your eyes to refocus and provide stress relief and relaxation.
3. DYI Sitting/Standing workstation.
Design your workstation so it is a perfect fit for you. Adjust your computer monitor so the top is just below eye level, position your keyboard, or add a tray underneath so your keyboard and mouse are a couple of centimetres above your thighs. Choose an ergonomic keyboard and mouse to ease the strain on your hands and wrists, and rotate and stretch your hands and wrists during your breaks.
Do it yourself with simple tips if you cannot invest in adjustable standing/sitting desks. If you have a spare chest of drawers or bookshelves at a certain height, you can use them for a decent-standing desk. Alternatively, place a comprehensive platform that rises a little higher at one side of your desk so the other half is reserved for sitting, and you can alternate if you find yourself tired.
4. Conference calls – pain-free.
From a physical perspective, it’s typical to cradle the phone between your shoulder and ear during calls or when you type or spend time looking at your phone daily. Nowadays, people spend approximately five hours daily looking at their mobiles, leading to severe tech-neck aches and pains. The first rule to avoid pain in the neck is to go hands-free. Use a headset, wireless earbuds, or, if your environment allows, a speakerphone so you won’t have to tilt your head to the side or constantly look down at your phone or tablet screen. Bring the screen to eye level so your head is not slouched forward or too high. Try the Chin tuck exercise by gently drawing your head and chin back, like you’re making a double chin, until you feel a slight stretch on your neck. Alternatively, do the Exaggerated nod – slowly look up to the ceiling by relaxing your jaw, opening your mouth, and relaxing your shoulders as much as possible. Check if you can go further by an inch or two, bring your head back to stretch, and relax the neck even more.
5. Bring Nature In.
Choose a spot to work with a biophilic design for the day to boost your cognitive health. Biophilic design is a strategy used in the building industry to respond to humans’ authentic connection to the natural environment. In the UAE, citizens spend about 90 per cent of their lives indoors, so we must intentionally introduce nature into our space. Surrounding ourselves with natural and organic materials and elements and viewing the outdoors and natural daylight helps us stay on top of our energy, productivity, alertness, and focus.
6. Create a vision board space for yourself.
What helps us keep going and persevering through hard work is often having a motivational piece or reminder on or around the desk, whether it’s a picture of the marathon we signed up for, a vision of the dream wedding we want to have, or a private business we want to own. Many philosophies state that understanding our “why” and our purpose will help us better ourselves and lead to more excellent performance results. For example, working out just for the sake of working out can get heavy and inefficient if we have not defined our goals, as they will be our guiding framework and push us toward success.
7. Meditation and Visualization Breaks.
A research team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation done over a week period that was based on stress reduction changed the structure of the brain by increasing cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and decreasing the brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress. Following a meditation method daily and during rest time changes the stress level in the brain. It changes our subjective perception and feelings, influencing areas linked to mood, arousal, and improvements in how we feel — our psychological and mental well-being.
8. Brain-enhancing F&B.
From the futuristic world of nootropics and supplements to improve cognitive function to the best-kept secret benefits of nutrition, we need to review some brain-health ingredients that will help peace of mind and ensure mental health (literally) in the future.
In our favour is the flavour – many brain foods are naturally delicious, so we can consume them on their own or in combination with tasty flavours with other ingredients in case of taste challenges.
Some examples are:
· Chocolate, rosemary, and mint for improved memory
· Coffee, green tea, and caffeine for processing information faster and dealing with informational overload
· Nuts and seeds with omega-3s, such as walnuts, pumpkin, flaxseeds, and peanuts, help better brain function
· Blueberries and green smoothies are rich in anthocyanin, another key to a healthy brain
· Turmeric lattes and adaptogen lattes ( DIY with cacao, Ashwagandha, Maca powders, and herbs) work at a molecular level by regulating a stable balance in the hypothalamic and adrenal glands by “hacking” the stress response in the body
9. Scheduling the Work.
It is scientifically proven that the brain accumulates and processes learnings, ideas, and concepts during a restful time and when asleep. This is one good season to take care of scheduling our breaks and do them for at least 10 – 15 minutes each hour or 20 – 30 minutes each two. This allows the brain to decompress, re-energize and increase the ability to concentrate and pay attention.
It is essential to set a time to log off for the night entirely and end the business day that helps your brain know that it’s time for rest and memory consolidation.
10. Use aromatherapy
A research study on the effect of essential oils on short-term human image and numerical memory has been conducted with rosemary and lavender oils. It was observed that inhalation of the rosemary essential oil increased the memorization of numbers, and inhalation of the lavender essential oil weakened this process. It was also shown that the rosemary essential oil improved the speed and accuracy of task performance. On another note, the smell of citrus can lift spirits and improve thinking and memory. Lemon, when used aromatically, promotes physical energy and purification. When using those, we must opt for an essential oil diffuser that delivers a subtle, natural scent rather than candles or artificial sprays that may contain irritating chemicals.
11. Oxygen Air Fusion
Research carried out at the Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at the University of Northumbria shows that mental performance can be significantly improved by inhaling pure oxygen. The clinical study found that breathing supplemental oxygen significantly improved the cognitive performance of healthy adults. It’s not unusual for office environments to trigger what’s known as occupational allergies—sensitivities to chemicals in carpet, office furniture, or paint, for example, that can increase problems like headaches and rashes. And even if we don’t have physical symptoms, the stuffy air in the workplace or home could hamper our breath. We must consider natural air purifiers such as salt lamps, peace lilies, and bamboo charcoal. Having plants in the home can reduce carbon dioxide and increase oxygen levels. Allowing some fresh air by keeping windows open and, if not available, using an air purifier with a HEPA filter for our desks will help us be calmer, take deeper breaths, and stimulate the brain process and work.
From lighting to storage to decorating, there are thousands of articles on how to deliver wellness into your home and office. Considering that most Millennial and Gen Z employees actively seek lifestyle choices that prioritize health and happiness, offering a variety of fitness and wellness-based flexible options for employees working from home or at the office makes perfect sense.
For us, sitting, reclining behind the desk, and being immobile for hours is no longer an option and lifestyle. Fortunately, many scientists, doctors, and wellness experts have taken the time to work and reverse the negative impacts of our desk jobs, allowing more functionalities to be added directly to our workplace. With more and more individuals putting their health first, many wellness ways exist to succeed at your work and maintain excellent health. Last but not least, wellness implementations are often considered very expensive or mainly related to an annual weight-loss challenge or quarterly steps competitions. However, the most successful individuals and companies integrate wellness lifestyle solutions into their day-to-day business, home environment, and culture, allowing it to benefit the company and person beyond “just” wellness.