For many people, the home office is the new working reality – but it carries health risks. If you want to keep your mind and body fit at home, you should follow a few rules. […]
Corona has noticeably changed the working world: face-to-face events have become rare, meetings via teams and zoom are the new standard. The canteens and offices are orphaned in many places – that’s why millions of people work in their own four walls. At first, the enthusiasm was great: better compatibility of family and work, more flexible working and the homely opportunity to answer the e-mails in pajamas on the couch. But the euphoria has now in many cases given way to a slight melancholy, reports Dr. Bernhard Leben from H.i. med. In his health care academy, he is increasingly diagnosing pathologies that have a direct connection to working from home.
“There are inconspicuous dangers lurking in this cuddly world that usually do not exist in the office,” reports Leben. For example, the blurring of working time and free time leads to an increased level of fatigue, nervousness and irritability. Often, the structured breaks that colleagues, among others, provide in the company are also missing. Without socializing at lunchtime or the relaxed coffee break in the afternoon, the brain cannot switch off in between. The permanent load will be noticeable no later than in the evening.
The feel-good factor of the home environment also has its downsides: high-quality office furniture or technical equipment such as eye-friendly monitors are rarely found. If you want to compensate for all these disadvantages and stay fit both physically and mentally in the home office, you should consider some tips.
“Diseases are multifactorial,” says Bernhard Leben. “Often it is not the one decisive trigger, but the many small pinpricks that clog the body and ultimately bring it to its knees.“ Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the so–called little things – which can make the big difference at the end of the day.
For example, the correct sitting posture is massively underestimated. Of course, the couch is seductively comfortable, but it harms the body in the medium and long term. Better is an office chair, which tempts to a straight posture. But even better is the use of a gymnastic ball. “Such a ball of rubber will avoid the cross from sagging and tipping the pelvis away. In addition, it keeps the entire body muscles in restlessness and automatically ensures an upright posture,“ says Dr. Leben. Instead of burdening and weakening our body incorrectly, we strengthen it in this way.
In the office, smaller distances are often automatically incurred during the working day – be it the walk to the printer, the coffee machine or the colleagues at the end of the corridor. At home, these are missing and bring us ourselves to the responsibility of providing movement.
Bernhard Leben recommends the 40-10-10 rule: sit for 40 minutes per hour, stand for 10 minutes, move for 10 minutes. The latter is useful, for example, when talking on the phone, brainstorming or memorizing. If you have a height-adjustable desk, you can also do text or computer work while standing.
Those who work with concentration need regular breaks. Small fitness exercises are ideal for shaking out the brain and body. “Every one or two hours of 30 seconds of activity is enough,” says Leben. “It’s just about getting the body out of the sitting position.
A few push-ups, jumping jacks or squats ensure that oxygen flows through all the muscles and the support corset is relieved.“ It doesn’t take a personal trainer or a gym to do something good for the body.
A decisive factor for mental freshness is the oxygen or carbon dioxide content of the air. After a few hours in the cozy home office, the CO2 content increases and we inhale more and more of the substance, which is actually a waste product of our metabolism. Bernhard Leben therefore recommends regularly opening the windows and letting fresh air into the room. The new oxygen in the brain makes us awake and fit again.
Even a walk in the open air – for example, during a lunch break – works wonders. Especially since we are doing twice as good for ourselves through physical activation. “Don’t be put off even in winter – fresh air is by far the best!“, according to Dr. Leben. “By the way, also for the defenses. It is not for nothing that they say: a cool head and warm feet make the doctor poor.“
Work hard, sleep hard: To recharge the batteries, we have to regenerate. Above all, we demand top performance from our brains every day. The approximately 100 billion nerve cells in our head are each connected to 10,000 nerve connections – and all tubes are constantly fired. When we perceive, think or remember, chemical processes take place in the brain and these leave waste products, so-called thought waste.
A valuable diet is equally important for body and mind. Burgers, pizza or a well-fried pork steak are delicious, but poison for our hips as well as for our brain. “Bad fats, such as omega-6 fatty acids, have an inflammatory effect, are deposited too much in our brain and affect not only the membranes, but also the speed of our thoughts,” explains Bernhard Leben. Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at the ingredients of our food.
Finished products make us ready. The popular sunflower oil has a very unfavorable ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A high-quality olive or walnut oil is better – because there is an increased level of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for metabolism. On average, our food contains ten to twenty times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids; at best, the ratio should be 1:1. Fish, algae, nuts or seeds will help.
In addition, green, natural and only slightly steamed food is recommended. Fruits and vegetables unfold their health-promoting effect, especially if they are eaten raw. Super- or novelfood should be part of a healthy balanced diet. Among the very best substances are the so-called adaptogens. These are selected plant, flower, leaf or fruit extracts that stabilize the organism and support its natural regeneration. It is best to consume them as teas, because tea drinking itself is healthy and decelerates and mobilizes the brain at the same time.
Our brain can only perform well if it is really required. But how do you challenge your brain? “My grandfather always said: I do crosswords every day – so I stay fit in my head,” Bernhard tells Leben. “However, crosswords only ask for prior knowledge and do not require any real brain power.“
The test for the example is made easy: only when we feel the activity as demanding, our brain really learns. Learning languages or instruments is the prime example. But also handicraft activities or juggling with balls demands the brain – and ensures more performance. “The more complex our brain works, the more powerful it becomes. And I guarantee: it will never be full! Tomorrow will always fit in twice of what you have learned today.“
*Nils Zeizinger is a freelance author for PR, economic and financial topics. In terms of content, he deals primarily with the FinTech scene as well as the tech giants Google, Facebook and Co. Born in Thuringia, he studied journalism, political science and comparative literature at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. He is a member of the German Journalists’ Association.