Many people who are currently looking for a job want the potential to work remotely. After two years of the pandemic and being forced to work from home, it’s actually become quite a perk. People can now work remotely while traveling, cut down on their commuting time per week, and even move to more family-friendly cities. Still, if you’re not careful, you might not have everything you need for a healthy home office.
1. Build your home office right
You probably already know that sleeping and working in the same room is pretty detrimental to your health, but what you might not have known is that the structure of the room itself can actually have an impact on your mental health. There are a few really cool studies on this called neuroarchitecture.
Neuroarchitecure isn’t just about the outside of a building either. It encompasses every part of it. Just think of a place where you feel you are most relaxed and then think about why that is. Some of it has to do with how the space is structured, and the other part has to do with your experiences in that space.
In a study done by Prior and Shipka, they found that students felt more or less focused depending on the rooms they were in and their former experiences in those rooms. They called this process “chronotopic lamination” which comes from the Latin words Chronos (time) and Tropos (location) and lamination for the process of something layered on itself.
You can imagine this as small pieces of transparent plastic. Each time you go into a room, that adds another layer of transparent plastic. If the first layer is yellow and the second layer is blue, then this would mean you see a green room instead. This is why certain smells or songs remind us of the past.
If you first enter a building and experience it as a good place to study, but then are harassed by the people there each time you go, your body will use these experiences (chronotopes) to understand what will happen the next time you go. So, after months of harassment, you’ll eventually feel your body begin to react to the space even if you’re not being actively harassed.
By structuring your work environment beforehand, you’re setting yourself up for productivity in the future. If you have a space that makes you feel productive, and you are productive whenever you’re there, then you should leave that space for that purpose when possible and not for relaxing or sleeping, which would confuse the purpose of the space.
2. Add plants
Millennials are crazy about plants, and it’s no wonder since plants have been proven to have health benefits for people who work indoors. In a recent study, researchers found that house plants reduced the amount that people coughed, reduced feelings of dry skin/throat, and generally improved the health of the people around them.
In another study, the plants helped to reduce airborne toxins in indoor environments by up to 75%. These are also easy to find in online lists for air-purifying plants (and for anyone with pets, there are also some that are non-toxic but make sure to search for that before bringing the plants home).
Even in the field of neuroarchitecture that we mentioned above, research even says that plants make people more creative. This is a subsection of architectural design called “biophilic design” that has helped people place elements of nature into rooms, buildings, communities, and even entire cities.
3. Stay active
The phrase “stay active” might remind you of the commercials for keeping active for at least an hour per day to stay healthy from the early 2000s. These had a number of variations, but the base idea was the same: get up and move to stay healthy.
Most people in Europe already move quite a bit more than their American peers to walk to the grocery store, the subway, or just for fun. Still, when you have a long weekday working from your home office, it’s pretty exhausting. In an overview of several studies in various countries mapping the physical activity of people during the pandemic, they found that studies unanimously showed that people were less active.
Even though we might want to forget that the pandemic happened, if you’re still someone working from home, the habit of sitting for long periods of time and not going out as often might still be with you. By working out, or standing up at your desk, you’ll increase the amount of energy you have, how positively you feel about yourself, and increase your overall mental health.
You can do this by either going to the gym or doing a quick workout from home. Just make sure that you start slowly. If you begin working out too quickly, you risk injuring yourself. It takes a lot longer for your ligaments, tendons, and bones to adjust to a new physical activity compared to your muscles, so enjoy getting into a habit slowly and don’t give it 500% right away.
4. Go to events, travel, see friends, and meet new people
A routine is amazing for mental health and productivity, but social relationships top all of it. Scientists and researchers have known for quite some time that social interactions help people stay healthier, live longer, and have a better overall quality of life. By going out with friends, doing new things, and enjoying yourself, you also experience time differently.
Still, if you’re like many people who find making new friends difficult, there is only opinionated advice that can be given (so we’ll give ours, too). Since many people want to make friends but have a hard time doing so, it’s sometimes just easier to directly ask someone if they want to hang out or go do something (kind of like our motto of honest and simple insurance?).
If the person says that they’re busy, you can ask them if they’d like to go another time. If they say no, then it’s probably best not to ask again. A lot of the time, however, people are just as excited to make friends as adults as you are. Find a nice event to go to and ask your cool coworker next time if they’d like to go. Go to different events by yourself and make the promise to talk to someone.
Enjoyed our article? Check out the rest of our healthy living series on our blog.