Perhaps you’ve heard about “healthy homes” and wondered how a home could support your health?
Or maybe you’ve wondered what you could do to create a healthy home?
And, if you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll likely just be eager for more strategies to support your health.
Please know, that no matter where you’re at, every step you take is a step in the right direction.
Let's get started.
Does Your Home Support Your Health?
It could be! You don’t have to be bed-bound to be experiencing the effects of hidden hazards in your home – you might be fit and well but feel a bit off at times.
Since there are so many signs and symptoms which may suggest your home could be hampering your health, and many of these may also have medical causes… The best thing to do is to start by observing.
Here’s my key question: do you feel better when away from your home?
From my experience with clients over the last 9 years, the vast majority have reported that when they spend time away from their homes, their symptoms become less severe. For some, it’s almost instant. For others, it is gradual.
What are some of the common symptoms when your home doesn't support your health?
Given we’re all different, these will vary from person to person. However, here are some of the more common symptoms.
- Sore and/or dry eyes
- Poor sleep
- Heightened levels of stress or agitation
- Sore and/or tight muscles
- Feeling not quite right (aka malaise)
- Foggy or muddled head
- Low energy
- Vertigo or losing balance (only when at home)
- Grinding or clenching teeth (aka bruxism)
- Runny nose
- Depression, anxiety, rage, angry outbursts
Please remember, there can also be medical causes for some of these, and these should also be ruled out – as some of the medical causes could be sinister.
Let me tell you about Beth and Jo
Beth and Jo were renting, and not long after moving into their new place, they began to feel unwell. Things got worse day by day, and eventually they both needed time off from work.
Alarm bells started to ring for them when they found they felt worse when resting at home.
Jo spent the days outside weathering the cold Melbourne winter.
Beth felt so bad at home, she opted not to take time off – the fact was, she felt better there anyway.
When I attended their home, it was clear that they had some big issues with water ingress and mould. They decided to break their lease and get out of there A.S.A.P.
For Beth and Jo the link was super obvious. However, for many people, the changes can be subtle and not so readily noticed.
Let's consider some easy (and free) ways that you can get started on right away.
Cap Screen Time
Studies have established there is a variety of adverse health effects linked to screen time. Apart from the more obvious ones such as dry eyes, there can be a range of other effects.
The effects of shortwave light (SWL) from the LED lights in screens was studied by Israeli researchers, Green, et al, in 2017. They discovered that 2 hours of evening device use resulted in increased wakefulness at night, low-quality sleep, and suppressed melatonin production.
But wait – there’s more!
The research team also noticed symptoms the next day, including an elevated level of sleepiness, a decrease in the capacity to concentrate, poor mood, and reduced performance levels when performing actions.
What also came to light (excuse the pun!) was that dimming the lights on the screen didn't make much difference to the aftereffects that they had observed.
Here’s what I recommend –
Reducing screen time in the evening by setting a curfew. In my home, we started by selecting a time that worked for everyone to “down phones/devices.” For us, it's 7:00PM. Find a time that works for your household and stick to it.
Clean Your Air
Australians spend between 90 and 95 percent of their time indoors (State of Knowledge, 2001).
Knowing this can help us to understand the important role which our homes (and offices) have in our wellbeing.
I was shocked to discover that many people rarely open windows and doors, and that occupants rely on the heating and cooling systems to control the indoor environment.
This means that the indoor air is rarely (if ever) exchanged, and the result is that indoor air contaminants continuously increase. Often, too, I’ve seen a decrease in oxygen levels and an increase in carbon dioxide. There are statistics around that show that indoor air can be 5-10 times more polluted than outdoor air.
Ventilation is key and done regularly, will allow indoor air to be exchanged with and refreshed by outdoor air.
The quickest and easiest way to do this is to do a lap of your home, opening every single door and window. It can take as few as 2 minutes to exchange the air in your home. It is ideal to do this hourly.
Down the Device
Various exciting technologies over the last 15 years have made it easier for people to be hooked on their devices. Have you noticed anytime you have a question, you reach for your device and search for an answer?
We've already touched on the shortwave light from LEDs in screens, but there’s more to it than that.
Our energy, emotional and mental health can take a whack with the constant pings and interruptions when we’ve got an email, SMS or a notification from an app or social media. Our sleep is easily affected when we’ve seen/heard something distressing right before bed.
One of my guiding principles is “the precautionary principle.” This means that something has to be proven to be safe, and unless it has, then I limit use or access to it.
So while the scientists re debating the semantics about health vs biological effects, I choose to minimise my exposure to wireless radiation.
Apart from the potential health risks, there are the mental and emotional health risks that most have already experienced. On top of this, I value quiet time to reflect, form my own opinions, and rest my eyes from the eternal scrolls…
Thus, I recommend choosing times in your day where you are without your devices.
Instead, you could go for a walk in nature (and bring in the many health benefits of Shin-Rin Yoku, or “forest bathing”), read a book or magazine, play a board game, draw, dance, sing, play… I’m sure you can easily find joyful ways to spend your time.
BONUS TIP: Have a look at your screen time (your device measures this) and multiply it by 365 to see just how many hours (or weeks!!) you’re spending with your device. Then ponder what else you could do with that time.
Creating a Healthy Home Can Support Your Health and Wellbeing
Create an oasis for yourself at home in which you can feel safe, nourished, and happy…
Knowing that your home does support your health.
You can do this!
And if you want my help…