In the cold, dark days of winter, it is not surprising that we get a little glum. Especially after the holidays, in that period between New Year’s and Valentines, depending on where you live, the winter might be lingering longer than you had anticipated. Well, you might be able to offset the lingering affects of Seasonal Affective Disorder issues by going to the gym after work, eschewing refined sugars which fluctuate your mood, and/or adopting more fresh produce, there are other simple things you can do to your office space to offset some external factors that might be adversely affecting your health. Let’s take a look at 5 ways to biohack your office space.
As you know, I am a high school medical teacher. My office is my classroom. It is also a home for my wayward, constantly-rotating students. I try to make my classroom homey by hanging lights, leaving the blinds to the windows open, and leaving off the fluorescent lights. (If you don’t know why the latter one is important, check out NPE’s podcast episode on Fluorescent Lighting.) I want to maintain an atmosphere of relaxation in my room, which makes it more conducive to learning. Realistically, I think it makes them too relaxed to the point they want to knock off on their phones all period but that is separate topic. So what are the 5 ways to biohack your office space? These are just some personal ways I try to optimize my room in these dreary months.
Diffusing Essential Oils
Get your aromatherapy on! As Kate McCall mentions in her podcast series Kate’s Apothecary, numerous health benefits abound from essential oils. Now for me, it is not appropriate nor financially-prudent to topically apply oils to my students. But utilizing a diffuser is a whole different story. By diffusing lavender, frankincense, lemon, rosemary, and a host of various oils, not only does it bring a nice odor to the room, it sparks their minds. I choose an oil based on my goal. For example, if it is test day, I use rosemary for memory retrieval. On other days I’ll use lavender to relax the class.
Can you use oils in your office space? Sure! I’m sure there are co-workers who already do. If you have your own office it is ideal since you won’t be bothering anyone else with your sweet-smelling biohack. If you are in a cubicle space, you might want to ask your neighbors if they mind. Either way, you shouldn’t be diffusing all hours of the day. Doing so, can ignite respiratory problems. Though this isn’t too common, remember that essential oils are very potent and my trigger that effect in your colleague or you so diffuse oils sparingly. Click here to purchase some affordable, reliable ones on Amazon!
Read this NPE article on “5 Things You Need To Know About Essential Oils.”
Utilizing Light Therapy Lamp
In the winter it is crucial to use a light therapy lamp. People in the northern climes, like my old adopted state of Alaska, use them all the time. Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly named SAD) is a condition where people become depressed and listless during the winter months. This malaise is normally ascribed to the lack of sunlight and the cold temperatures which dissuade many from going outside during those fleeting hours of sunlight to get the biohacking benefits of Vitamin D.
Light Therapy lamps help offset this problem by essentially creating your own portable sun. Sizes vary. There are those that are large enough to illuminate an entire room. Most that may be purchased on Amazon are hand-held. The key to understanding light therapy lamps is that it re-calibrates your Circadian Rhythm. In the dark months of winter our brain might not receive enough cues to understand what time of the day it is. This is especially true if you don’t get sunlight into your retinas immediately upon awakening. The lingering effect of having a mis-calibrated Circadian Rhythm is that the brain is confused as to the time of the day it is. This may be exacerbated by looking at blue-lit screens at night. The brain thinks it is still daytime at 9:00pm!
Most studies show you only need to flip on your light therapy lamp for about 20 minutes in the early afternoon to keep your Circadian Rhythm in sync. Keep the lamp a feet or two from your face and try not to look directly into the lamp. It could potentially damage your retina. But please don’t let that dissuade you from getting one. The long term health effects of having a mis-calibrated Circadian Rhythm offsets that concern. Just don’t look into the light. Click here to purchase some affordable, reliable ones on Amazon!
Flipping on the Salt Lamp
You might have seen salt lamps while at the store. Heck, you might even own one. Salt Lamps are commonly employed to clean indoor air. Though the mechanism behind how it works is nebulous, the main key is that it reduces positive ions which accumulate on our body and are released by electrical devices. Salt lamps emit negative ions which offsets the positive ones leading to improved well-being, especially mental and psychological. If your office has lots of computers, routers, TVs, and other electrical devices, it is even more imperative to have one.
An nice ancillary benefit of salt lamps is that they emit a relaxing glowing light which eases the mind and in itself reduces stress. At night, in particular, they are great to illuminate the room for little ones or even yourself. The most important takeaway for salt lamps is to make sure you purchase one from Pakistan or India. Look on the bottom of the base. If it doesn’t state that it was made in either of those nations, don’t buy it. Himalayan salt lamps are the only authentic ones. Click here to purchase some affordable, reliable ones on Amazon!
Sipping on Tea
Drinking tea, whether they be herbal or “colored” is a great way to biohack your health. We have written numerous articles documenting the benefits of tea. Depending on the type, it lowers your stress, burns calories, fights infections, wards off cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other maladies.
For me, I drink about 5 cups of various teas throughout the working day. I typically run to the microwave during the 7 minute passing period to warm up the water. I realized that this isn’t too efficient, (nor good for my health given that I use radiated water), so I will purchase an inexpensive water warmer to keep in my room. Though my tastes changes throughout the year, my mainstays are green, ginger, turmeric, and mint teas.
Listen to NPE Radio episode on “Which is best: Green, Black, or White Tea?”
Taking periodic walks
Taking periodic walks have numerous benefits. In particular to winter months, exercise in any form boosts endorphins and serotonin levels in the body thus elevating your mood. Aside from that, it burns calories, relieves stress, and lessens your chances of acquiring any/all diseases. Vis-a-vis your work, taking a 10 minute walk a couple of times a day to get away from work clears your mind and makes you more productive at work.
These 5 ways to biohack your office space are just a few that I employ in your classroom and in my day routine in general. Others exist of course, but the ones enumerated are pretty simple to implement and not too expensive. Salt lamps may be purchased for around $25; light lamps around $100. In the long run they are worth the investment. Give it a try!
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Listen to NPE Radio to learn more about biohacking your life!