Is Work Harming Your Health?

Is Your Job Harming Your Health?

Is your office environment taking it’s toll on your health and well being? Here are some common problems and health hacks to help keep you feeling well.

You don’t go out at lunch

Often there is a strong temptation to skip a lunch break to catch up with work, however this can be counter-productive; regular breaks have many advantages both physically and mentally and can also have a positive impact on individual and team performance.

There are many reasons why you should not skip natural breaks and especially lunch time ones. Mental performance drops if we don’t take breaks; decision making becomes slower, attention levels wane and thinking can become more rigid. You’re also more likely to eat unhealthy food when you stay at your desk, which can not only affect health in the long term but also impair your concentration later on in the afternoon.

We also tend to eat faster when at our desks, which means that the stomach doesn’t have enough time to send signals of fullness to the brain, causing us to overeat. We unfortunately consume more calories when we eat quickly.

Your boss is a nightmare

This one isn’t easy to resolve, but it could be time to seriously consider a new job if you’re being unfairly treated. A study from Sweden found that the chronic stress of a bad boss was linked to a raised risk of heart disease. Other research has linked working for a nasty boss to depression, sleep issues, high blood pressure and being overweight.

You don’t wash your hands

And I don’t mean just after visiting the loo! Commonly touched surfaces, such as door handles, printer buttons and the photocopier are all teaming with bacteria. Think about it – how often do you reckon the office cleaner wipes any of these? To avoid catching colds and flu, or even nasty food poisoning bugs, wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible.

You sit near the photocopier

It’s not always a choice you have, but if you can, avoid being close to the photocopier – if the filter isn’t changed regularly, deadly ozone can leak out. Laser printers can also release toner particles which can cause lung problems. Indoor air pollution can be very harmful and is blamed for thousands of deaths across Europe every year. Open windows wherever possible, and introduce some greenery – NASA recommends the following plants for removing air pollutants: English ivy, philodendron, bamboo palm and peace lily.

You don’t get up enough

We’re all aware that sitting is the new smoking, and it’s important to move around as much as you can while at work to avoid increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Here are a few moves to counteract the damage of a desk job:

  • Sit straight on your chair, knees over ankles. Place your right hand on your left knee. Inhale and lengthen your spine, exhale slowly and twist from the root of your spine to the crown of your head and place your left forearm on the top of the back of your chair.
  • Take five breaths on each sides, growing tall as you inhale and twisting your spine, looking over your back shoulder as you exhale.

If you enjoyed that, then move to the next variation of the pose:

  • Place opposite elbow to knee and your hands in prayer in front of your chest. Aim to align shoulder over shoulder by moving the top shoulder towards the back and lifting your top elbow towards the sky. Take five breaths on each side, lengthening the spine as you inhale, twisting your spine and looking over your shoulder as you exhale.

To release tension in your neck and my shoulders you need to stretch!

  • Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head. Gently bring your chin to your chest to add a bit more weight by using your hands. Take three deep breaths. Then bring opposite hand to ear and extend your arm on the side. Add a bit of weight with your hand to stretch your neck. Aim for three to five breaths on each side.

YOU DON’T BLINK ENOUGH

At work we’re often concentrating on computer screens meaning we naturally don’t blink as often as we should. This means our tears can evaporate too quickly and cause sore, gritty and dry eyes. We normally should be blinking eight times a minute but when we concentrate, we could be blinking as little as one or two times a minute. The best thing we can do to protect our eyes when on a computer is to take a break!

The 20:20:20 rule is a great way to rest your eyes between emails – every 20 minutes; look away for 20 seconds, at something 20 feet away. This is a good one to do at your desk, but it’s even better if you can get up for a walk over to the window. If your eyes are feeling dry and sore relieve the problem using a good preservative free eye drops to hydrate your eyes.

Rachel x

A Lack Of Sleep Can Make You An Angrier Person

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If I miss out on even the littlest bit of rest, I am the world’s grumpiest person. In my defense, it makes sense: Sleep is essentially the most important part of wellness. And according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, lack of sleep has the ability to intensify feelings of anger, which explains my unshakably grumpy disposition when I lack sleep.

Now, it might seem like it goes without saying that you’re mildly agitated when you don’t get enough sleep—who wouldn’t be? But according to the researchers at Iowa State University, there’s always been speculation about whether the actual sleep loss was to blame for exacerbated feelings of anger or if preexisting anger was responsible for disrupting the sleep cycle. So, they decided to recruit a group of participants in order to get to the bottom of sleep’s unique relationship with anger.

The scientists split the subjects into two groups: One group continued with their normal sleep schedule, and the second group was instructed to restrict their sleep by two to four hours a night for two nights. The first group turned out to sleep an average of seven hours a night while the second ended up getting around four and a half hours. And though the latter may seem extreme, Zlatan Krizan, Ph.D., an Iowa State psychology professor and one of the study authors, explained that this exemplifies the sleep loss we typically experience on any given day.

In order to measure anger and see if that sleep loss provoked it, the researchers had these participants then come into a lab after the sleep manipulation and rate a variety of products, once while listening to brown noise (which sounded like spraying water) and then while listening to harsher white nose (which sounded like a static signal). These uncomfortable audio-induced conditions were used in order to provoke anger, Dr. Krizan explained in the news release.

“In general, anger was substantially higher for those who were sleep-restricted,” he said. “We manipulated how annoying the noise was during the task, and as expected, people reported more anger when the noise was more unpleasant. When sleep was restricted, people reported even more anger, regardless of the noise.”

Clearly, proper sleep is of utmost importance in order to avoid unnecessary hostility.

So if you’re feeling angrier than usual, you might want to catch up on sleep. If you’re having trouble getting a high-quality snooze, don’t be afraid to get strategic about your sleep schedule—if not for its abundance of well-known health benefits, then at the very least to dispel some of your rage.

Rachel x

12 Self-Care Tips For Anyone Who Works Too Much

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Self-care is absolutely crucial in our busy modern lives, where we have created this culture of working as -much-as-you-can and working-as-hard-as-you-can. Thanks to technology and smartphones, we’re accessible for work just about 24 hours a day. We even feel others will look down on us or think we’re selfish if we take time off or don’t respond to email, texts, and phone calls quickly enough!

This often leads to feeling exhausted, burnt out, and becoming irritable. If you know you work too much, then it’s time to make self-care a priority.

Here are my 12 self-care tips that you can choose from to make a part of your own regular practice so that you feel good about taking care of yourself (and you get a break from your work!).

1. Listen to your body.

It will let you know when you need rest or exercise or healthy food or sleep or pretty much anything, if you’re paying attention.

2. Get enough sleep.

If you’re not sleeping enough or getting good sleep, then you’re going to be pretty cranky and other people probably won’t like being around you much

3. Exercise.

You need to move your body regularly in order for it to feel its best. Go for a run, ride your bike or join a yoga class.

4. Spend some time outside.

If you’re working hard in an office, then you probably aren’t getting much fresh air or sun.

5. Spend time alone.

It’s how you’ll really get to know how to identify your needs and figure out what makes you happy.

6. Use your Holiday time.

Don’t let it go to waste. You need time off from your job.

7. Use your sick time.

Don’t force yourself to go to work when you’re sick or not feeling great because it will be harder to recover (plus your co-workers won’t be too happy with you).

8. Read.

It’s self-care for your mind. And this doesn’t include work documents!

9. Meditate.

This is really relaxing and can be done anywhere — even five minutes of focusing on your breath makes a difference.

10. Practice mindfulness.

Allowing yourself to stay in the present and be nonjudgmental about your thoughts is the ULTIMATE self-care routine.

11. Forgive yourself.

Stop beating yourself up over things that happened in the past, because it’s going to drain your energy.

12. Forgive others.

Let go of past hurts because they are just going to weigh you down with negative feelings.

Rachel x

Living Authentically: The Courage to be Yourself

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I recently had a conversation with a woman who ‘didn’t want to end up like me’. The context to this statement was based on the fact that I am not a homeowner or in a position to be one anytime soon and by societies standards I don’t appear to have a ‘career’.

At first I was hurt and obviously offended by her statement, however this exchange got me to thinking about how women in particular are pulled away from their authentic selves by the expectations of society, by models of success and our careers and a world that teaches us that ‘doing’ is better than being and that we have to hustle to have any sort of value and all that messaging becomes internalized for 20 – 30 something women like myself until they have a catalysing experience.

For many of the women I talk to or work with motherhood is a catalyst but there are many other experiences like the loss of a loved one, a breakdown of a marriage or a change in health or just feeling unhappy. It’s this catalysing experience were you think ‘this is not me, this does not feel like me or I feel like I am living someone else’s life’. It’s a sense of not living in alignment with who you truly are.

For me the catalyst has been my health and my ongoing battle to manage chronic conditions. That’s when I transitioned into alignment with my more authentic self and went from all the societal expectations of what I should be to the point of authenticity, being true to my authentic self.

In my work I am a Meditation Teacher, Crystal Healer, Spiritual Book Group facilitator and a Holistic Living Blogger. The theme that pulls of all these together is helping others to feel good and sharing experiences and information with others, particularly women, that inspires their personal growth.

It did take me a while to realise that maybe I could create a career that feels more aligned and better to me. I am still slowly nudging towards this as I do have a ‘day’ job as a receptionist in an organic spa, which I feel is also important to mention as a lot of the time people neglect to mention the realities of transitioning particularly from a financial point of view.

I also think that its good to have patience and an understanding that it might take longer than you might like to find the right way to pull everything together, I think as a multi passionate woman when you do find a way to pull everything together it becomes more sustainable. Because you are using different skills and knowledge and you’re constantly learning new things. It is also easier to sustain excitement when you’re not just picking one interest and going full speed with that. Which I have done many times before, I didn’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of one thing and then deciding it’s not for me and another thing and so on. For some people that works very well but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t want a career focusing on just one thing until it’s over.

It takes a lot of courage to create your own career and to live authentically, but when you do find a way to pull everything together it feels very exciting. So if you are currently dabbling or perhaps you are looking to create a more authentic life for yourself here are my my four top tips to help you get started:

  1. Redefine your values. It’s hard to behave in an authentic way if you do not know what you value and desire. Often, we hold tight to the same values we grew up with, when we need to re-evaluate what feels right to us now and align our actions around those things. Get clear on what you care about and authenticity will take root.
  2. Develop an open mind. Authenticity flourishes when we experience the world wholly, from every perspective. Rigid, good/bad thinking keeps us trapped in judgment and limitation, which causes us to shut down our vulnerable, authentic self. Challenge yourself to look at all sides of the situation. Be open.
  3. Notice when you are being inauthentic. Pay attention to those times when you are insincere in your speech, or when you are acting in a way that doesn’t align with your core values. Then explore the fears and beliefs that may create those barriers to your authenticity.
  4. Trust your intuition. Often, we feel out of sync when we are acting inauthentic. Things just don’t feel right. Pay attention to those hunches, physical sensations, and impressions. They can be your instincts telling you that you are not being genuine. When you are on track and authentic, you’ll feel that too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and your stories!

Rachel x