7 Fixes to Make Your Home Easier to Navigate If You Have Arthritis

Kitchen counter with high stools.Arthritis doesn’t just affect the AARP set. In fact, it’s the leading cause of work-related disability, affecting nearly a quarter of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis is actually a “catch all” term for more than 100 joint-related diseases and conditions, including gout, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you’re one of those suffering with this disability, you know how challenging even the simplest tasks can be. But while major home renovations might seem daunting, there are some relatively easy hacks that can make a home friendlier for those living with arthritis.

1. Add some kitchen gadgets.

Yes, we all have too many one-use items like garlic crushers and potato ricers. But if you love to cook (or just love to eat) and have arthritis, we can guarantee that some additional tools will never be perceived as clutter in the “gadget” drawer or on the counter. Here are four that are likely to become indispensable:

  • Jar opener: Grip the top better without having to squeeze harder
  • Food chopper: Put down the knife and let this handy helper do the work
  • Appliance knob grips: Make the knobs on your stove, faucet, and other appliances bigger and easier to grasp with these enlarged coverings
  • Grabber: Easily retrieve dropped items without bending or stooping

2. Make two quick fixes for a safer bathroom.

While you might not want to undertake a bathroom overhaul, there are two must-do fixes you can implement:

  • Raised toilet seat: This goes right over the existing one to make it easier to reach without altering your existing fixture.
  • Bars and handrails: Bathing safety should never be taken lightly. Grips will ensure you don’t slip getting out of the shower or tub, and they now come in more decorative-looking choices these days — more like a towel bar — in a variety of finishes to lessen an institutional feel.

3. Purchase items in smaller quantities.

Yes we all love the thrill of saving money with bulk buys, but a huge bottle of soap or laundry detergent can be unwieldy. At the least, make sure you have assistance to put the larger contents into a smaller container for everyday use.

4. Make sure there are no trip hazards.

Check that your flooring is smooth, but not slippery. That might mean replacing worn carpet or covering slick hardwoods with carpet. If you don’t want to cover your lovely floors, you can consider area rugs, but they can be especially dangerous since it’s easy to catch a toe under the corner. Ensure they are stuck to the floor with sticky mats.

5. Climb carefully.

A two-story home can be a challenge if you have to navigate the stairs frequently. The best advice is to make sure that your items for daily living are downstairs, so even if your bedroom is up, you won’t be making multiple trips up and down the stairs. You can even equip a downstairs powder room with a second set of supplies you use frequently, like your toothbrush and toiletries, to eliminate trips.

If you do have to navigate stairs, at least occasionally, make sure that they are covered with a nonstick surface, such as a runner that is anchored down. Then make sure the handrails are easy to grasp – a rail on each side is best, so you might want to install a second one. Another trick is to put colored tape on the edge of each step to make them more visible.

6. Swap out more comfortable seating.

Low chairs and couches can be hard to rise from so make sure that at least your favorite chair is a comfortable height. A dining table that’s counter-height, outfitted with bar stools, can be a smart switch.

7. Declutter and reorganize.

The best overall tip is to take sure that your house is easy to navigate. That means getting rid of excess items that are in your way, from unnecessary furniture and lamps, to closets that are so stuffed you can’t locate the item you are looking for.

Then organize the house to your comfort, such as keeping everyday items within arms’ reach. That might mean moving dishes around in your kitchen, reshelving staples in your pantry to be at eye level and making sure that the most frequently worn items are front and center in your closet or drawers.

These few easy fixes can help you live more easily with an arthritis disability.




8 Creative Ways to Enjoy Summer That Don’t Cost a Fortune

Ferris wheelIs everyone playing while you’re working? We get it: It can feel painful to sit at your desk when the weather warms. But there’s no reason to forfeit fun in the sun.

Here are eight ways to enjoy summer, without going into debt on a pricey vacation.

At work

1. Eat lunch al fresco: There’s nothing like an hour in the sun to recharge your batteries. But don’t waste money on an overpriced salad at the local café. Brown bag it to a park or even just a nearby bench, then take a stroll after you’ve eaten. At least one study has connected a lunchtime walk with increased enthusiasm and less fatigue and stress when workers returned to the office.

2. Ask about flexible hours: Something about a sunny summer morning makes you want to get out of bed with the birds (or the birds might just be waking you!). Some people prefer to get their day started and head straight into the office, then leave earlier to enjoy an extended late afternoon. See if your HR department will allow you to flex your hours at least part of the week and then take advantage of an early departure to enjoy an afternoon hike or a spin on the Ferris wheel at the local carnival when it’s less crowded. You can even finish your work at home later that evening if you need to.

3. Take the meeting outside: Everyone is feeling the same summer fever so be the hero and move from your boring conference room to an outdoor location. Even claiming a far corner of the parking lot can feel like a respite when you feel the sun on your face.

4. Take days off strategically: If you’re not able to plan an extended getaway, see if you can create your own mini trips. The trick is to take Fridays off so that you have three uninterrupted days to play. Plan short getaways to nearby towns, go camping or just be a tourist in your own town on a staycation. (Trust us: There’s nothing like taking in a matinee to really feel indulgent!) Try taking every other Friday off in July and August and see how much summer fun you can cram in without dealing with crowds and overpriced lodging and travel costs.

After work/ on the weekends

5. Find a festival: Art. Music. Food. Doesn’t matter. Nothing says summer like a festival. Beware of some that can be budget busters, especially if rides are involved, but many even allow you to browse for free or a nominal fee. Find samples to graze on or bring your own snacks. But do enjoy that elephant ear if you’ve been craving one!

6. Grow your own produce: A summer vegetable garden will get you outside and also help you eat healthier — while saving a bundle on weekly produce. If you’re not one for a green thumb or don’t have ample space, a farmer’s market is a great alternative to once again — be outside.

7. Streamline your errands: It can be brutal to spend a lovely afternoon running errands, but we all need to grocery shop and get the dry cleaning. Or, do we? Sometimes ordering online can actually save you money, even despite the nominal service or shipping fee, since you won’t be tempted to impulse buy, a habit that costs Americans a whopping $5,400 annually If you must do some errands in person, plan them efficiently, which not only saves time, but gas, as you avoid backtracking.

8. Use “nature’s gym:” Summer mornings are glorious times to go for a walk or bike ride, and even if you work full time, there’s still plenty of light to do the same in the afternoon — maybe even hit a nearby hiking trail or play an active game of tag with the kids. Bonus: You can probably put your health club membership on hold to save some cash. Many gyms allow a “freeze,” until it’s, well, freezing.




9 Ways to Save Money on Fruits & Vegetables

Bowl of vegetables on a wooden table.Are you one of those people who buys fruits and vegetables only to let them spoil? Your intentions may be good but your actions waste nutritious food and your hard-earned money.

Here are nine sure-fire ways to save money on fruits and vegetables.

1. Plan a weekly menu

If you go to the grocery store without a plan for how you’ll use your purchases, chances are you’ll buy things you may not need and miss ingredients that could have completed a meal idea. Save time and money by putting together a menu plan, with at least your daily dinners for the week thought through. Plan to use ingredients that ripen quickly early in the week and longer-lived produce later and you’ll avoid a lot of potential waste.

2. Know how to properly store your produce

Tomatoes in the refrigerator? No way. Herbs on the counter? Definitely not. Knowing the proper way to store your fruits and vegetables can make a huge difference in how long they last.

3. Don’t always buy organic

Studies have shown that pesticides used on non-organic produce can build up in the human body. But not all fruits and vegetables have the same amounts of residual pesticides. This list from the Environmental Working Group shows you some of the conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables that are perfectly fine to buy.

4. Buy what’s in season

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are frequently less expensive than those that are out of season and must be shipped from warmer climates. They also typically taste better. Don’t know what’s in season? Ask your grocer or check the Department of Agriculture Seasonal Produce Guide.

5. Buy what’s on sale

Planning your weekly menu around the fruits and vegetables your local market has on sale can result in significant savings over time. Plus, you’re more likely to use those products since you have a plan for them.

6. Stock up on frozen foods …

Of course, the items you need on a regular basis aren’t necessarily going to be on sale when you want them. That’s why it’s good to stock up on the frozen version of these items when they’re on sale. Frozen corn, green beans and other staples last for months in the freezer, and those without any sauces or seasoning are particularly versatile.

7. … & canned goods

The same goes for canned items like crushed tomatoes, pineapple and beans. Buying several cans when they’re on sale means you’ll always have them when you need them.

8. Grow your own

Even if it’s just some herbs in a window box, growing your own produce can save serious money, especially if you cook a lot. You’ll spend pennies on the dollar compared to buying at your local grocer or farmers market.

9. Join a CSA

If you want the freshest vegetables and fruits delivered throughout the growing season, Community Supported Agriculture can be a great and frugal option. CSA groups are all over the country, especially metropolitan areas where access to farms may be limited. A word of caution, though: You may end up with large quantities of fruits and vegetables, so you’ll need a plan for sharing, cooking or preserving them.

This article originally appeared on Policygenius. The Council for Disability Awareness is an affiliate partner of Policygenius. 




3 Ways to Reduce Cancer Risks in the Office

Woman sitting at desk with plants around her.

If someone were to ask you about the level of pollutants in your daily environment, you’d probably think about your home, your city or town. But if you have a full-time job, what about the health of the workplace you spend most of your waking hours within?

One third of most people’s adult lives will be spent at work. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute estimates more than 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2018. According to the most recent data from the US National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database, American adults have a one-in-three lifetime chance of being diagnosed with cancer.

If you have a full time job and spend a large portion of your days in an office, here are some areas to be aware of:

Be mindful of the indoor air quality.

The air we breathe every day directly impacts our health, even though we are often unaware of its influence. Poor air quality has been recognized as a carcinogen linked to lung cancer, heart disease, and other respiratory conditions. These health concerns develop from exposure to toxins in the air, including particulate matter and specific types of chemicals.

Air pollution issues are typically associated with being outside, but indoor air is often far more polluted than outdoor air. A person also typically spends about 90 percent of their time inside, so any toxins that are present have a tremendous impact due to the length of time a person is exposed. If there are pollution sources near a building, toxins from the outdoor environment may be pulled inside through the mechanical ventilation system. Other biological toxins, like bird droppings or insects, can enter a building if the ventilation system isn’t properly maintained.

The materials used during a building’s construction can also be sources of pollution, especially when those materials are disturbed during renovations. Older buildings may have been constructed using toxins like asbestos and lead, both of which can be broken down into microscopic particles and swept into the air. Inhaling asbestos is known to cause a devastating form of cancer while exposure to lead causes a variety of complications throughout the body, including impaired kidney function and behavioral changes.

Depending on the toxin, employees can take action to combat indoor air pollution. Ask for transparency from management and the facilities team about building maintenance or renovations. Smaller steps include introducing plants into the office — which may remove some pollutants from the air.

Make time for exercise.

Exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits in preventing cancer, including regulating hormones, lowering body fat, and reducing inflammation. If you work full-time, it can be a challenge to make it to the gym after a long day in the office, so look for ways to infuse exercise into the very fabric of your days.

Try going for a walk or attending a fitness class at a nearby gym during lunch. And why go it alone? Having a gym partner or workout buddy helps people maintain their motivation to keep working out over the long haul. You can also make changes to your desk itself, for example by bringing in an under the desk bike or yoga ball to strengthen cardio health and balance.

Don’t forget sunblock if you sit near a window.

Dermatologists recommend you apply sunscreen every day you’re outside, even during the winter. Sun exposure can even occur indoors or in a car since most glass windows do not offer full-spectrum protection from the sun’s radiation. There is evidence of a correlation between people who spend a lot of time in the car and incidences of skin cancer on the left side of the body, coinciding with the driver’s side of a vehicle.

The American Cancer Society notes the risk of UV radiation through windows would pose a problem only for those who “spend long periods of time close to a window that gets direct sunlight.” If that applies to you, use sunblock each day, reduce the direct sun coming through the blinds, and cover any exposed skin with extra clothing helps create a barrier between your skin and harmful UV rays. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States with one in five Americans expected to be diagnosed at some point in their lives.

Cancer is the second most common cause for long-term disability claims. Do you have a disability insurance plan in place at work? To learn more and the sorts of questions you can ask HR, visit RealityCheckup.org.

 




6 Ways to Protect Your Lower Back From Injury

Man holding his backBack pain is one of the most widespread issues in modern American life. Experts estimate that eight out of ten Americans will experience back pain in their lives. 

According to the Integrated Benefits Institute’s Health and Productivity Benchmarking 2016, musculoskeletal disorders (aka pain in the back and joints — especially the hips, knees and shoulders) account for the biggest portion of long-term disability claims — a total of 29 percent in 2016. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) meanwhile writes that musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.

Here are six ways you can protect your lower back against injury — and the negative effects such an injury could impact on your ability to work and earn an income: 

Exercise Your Core

There are many real-world benefits of building up well-balanced and resilient core muscles. There is a wide range of exercises you can do to strengthen your core, such as incorporating front planks and leg lowering. If you can’t see yourself doing front planks and want to start with something simple, aim to go out for more walks. A walk nourishes the spinal structure.

Watch Your Posture

All the tiny habits we engage in every day can lead to big effects down the line. If you work in an office, check your posture at your desk. Follow these steps from the Cleveland Clinic to make sure you’re sitting with an optimum posture. 

Next, analyze your chair. Is it designed for a six foot two soul but you’re five foot four? Do your feet even rest on the floor? Ergonomics means “fitting a job to a person”, and an ergonomic chair is designed to perfectly fit with your body. By using a chair that allows you to adjust your posture according to your exact height and particular desk setup, you’ll lessen muscle fatigue, increase your productivity, and be far more healthy. It’s worth the time to investigate and correct your posture.

Walk Frequently

Regardless of what sort of chair you sit in, make sure you build up a habit of getting up and moving about frequently. The Mayo Clinic writes that the impacts of movement at work are profound; even leisurely movement with frequent breaks from one’s seat has been proven to have great impacts. You’ll burn more calories by doing this, and as the Mayo Clinic writes: “The muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.”

Travel With Care

If you drive a lot, tweak your posture while behind the wheel. A recent study in the U.K. found that a massive 75 percent of drivers were suffering from back pain caused by driving. A physiotherapist who worked on the study offered the following advice:

  • Keep the seat as close to the wheel as is comfortable, so you can easily reach the wheel with your elbows relaxed.
  • Adjust your backrest recline so it supports your spine without leaning too far back.
  • Ensure all mirrors are adjusted before you start your journey.
  • Build in rest stops every one-two hours for longer journeys, to stretch your legs.

Life Objects Carefully

Spend a moment to brush up on the best techniques for lifting heavy objects: keep your feet shoulder width apart, squat down rather than bending, and maintain a good posture with a straight back throughout. But don’t go too far, and avoid lifting all objects. Fiona Wilson, an Associate Professor and Chartered Physiotherapist at Trinity College Dublin recently argued that, “People are becoming less active and more overweight, which means they are becoming less fit and less able to tolerate the activity and loading for which we were designed. Recent expert advice highlights that the best way to prevent back pain is with exercise.”

Live Healthily

A healthy lifestyle, with a good diet, lots of water, and frequent exercise shores up your body’s strength and fitness. Watch your diet and try to keep the extra weight off — and be sure to get enough sleep. By building a preventative approach to your back’s health where you watch your posture and engage in healthy habits of exercise, eating, and rest, you’ll be able to build up your body’s best possible defenses against back pain.

That said, you won’t be able to prevent accidents that come out of the blue — so make sure you have an income protection plan in place in the event that you need to miss work for a prolonged period due to a back injury. A combination of health, exercise, and a solid financial plan will make you that much more ready to react to whatever life throws your way. 




3 Ways Meditators Benefit the Workplace

Woman meditating at workHow many people are meditating or practicing mindfulness in your organization? A 2017 study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal Preventing Chronic Disease, suggests it may be more than you realize.

According to the study authors, approximately one in seven workers in the U.S. workforce “report engagement in some form of mindfulness-based activity”. The authors go on to argue that “these individuals can bring awareness of the benefit of such practices into the workplace.”

There has been a rush of scientific studies over the past three decades that measure the beneficial effects of meditation on human health (and while many report positive findings, the consensus isn’t out; some reports suggest that the science isn’t to be believed just yet). While the scientists debate the issue, business leaders are advocating for meditation. David Allan, editorial director of CNN Health and Wellness, went as far as arguing that workspaces are the perfect places to meditate within, and should offer rooms for meditation. 

Here are three key ways that meditators benefit the entire working ecosystem according to recent data:

  1. Stress Reduction

Mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, are the fourth most common cause of both short- and long-term disability claims, according to 2016 data from the Integrated Benefits Institute. A 2017 study published in the journal Psychiatry Research offers compelling data that mindfulness meditation can help with the symptoms of depression and anxiety and enhance resilience to stress. Stress and employee burnout are major issues in HR management, so having employees actively offset their stress with a regular practice brings tremendous benefit to their health as well as benefiting those around them. 

  1. Increased Focus

Distraction has become a major obstacle. According to the 2018 Workplace Distraction Report by online learning marketplace Udemy, a staggering 36 percent of millennials/Gen Zers say they spend two or more hours per work day looking at their phones for personal activities. That same report says 66 percent of workers have never talked to a manager about their struggles with workplace distraction. Meditation is the art of learning to concentrate — on the breath, a mantra, or physical sensations depending on the type of meditation. This ability to focus on one thing leads to increased productivity.

  1. Strengthened Empathy

Meditation practices drawn from Mahayana Buddhist schools in particular, where the focus is on compassion, progressively build and develop one’s empathy and awareness of others. Not only does this positive frame of mind make people feel better and happier, it also makes them think more creatively. Many business leaders have connected empathy with innovation. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently gave a talk at Wharton where he argued that empathy is a key source of business innovation. It has also long been argued that Steve Jobs’ ability to empathize with the needs of consumers led to such innovations as the iPod and iTunes.

As you review your wellness program, consider mental health as much as physical health. Investigate bringing in speakers, establishing silent rooms for people to meditate or recharge within, and encourage the meditators in your ranks to share their experiences. When The Atlantic asked David Gelles, a New York Times writer and author of Mindful Work, about whether mindfulness is just another fad, Gelles had an interesting response.

I don’t think it’s a fad that employees and employers are realizing that we have to take better care of our own minds and our own bodies and that, by doing so, we can actually create better companies and better outcomes,” he said. “I think that that is a hopefully lasting shift in the way that many of the largest companies are thinking about how they have to do business.”




Is Loneliness a Health Risk In the Workplace?

Young woman looking out of window.Of all the health risks that HR teams are watching these days, how many are analyzing the rising levels of loneliness in the workplace? We live in the most technologically connected age in human history — with open plan offices and devices that allow us to communicate with each other in manifold ways in an instant. Yet loneliness is on the rise.

An Emerging Epidemic of Loneliness

In September 2017, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy wrote a riveting cover story for Harvard Business Review titled “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic.” Murthy, who served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States from 2014 to 2017, argues that loneliness is one of the most pressing health risks of our time. “During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes,” he writes. “It was loneliness.”

He cites conditions such as the gig economy, the rise of telecommuting, social media, and the fact that communities are becoming increasingly geographically displaced, contributing to loneliness levels doubling since the 1980s. This is having a very real impact on people’s health. One study showed that people with stronger social relationships had a 50 percent increased likelihood of a long life than those with weaker social bonds: the researchers concluded that a lack of social relationships has a greater impact on shortening life spans than obesity and a lack of physical exercise.

Workplaces Can Pioneer Solutions

Murthy argues that institutions that can play an essential role in weaving back together the threads of our communities and sense of connection. It’s not just an initiative that is good for people; it’s good for business and the bottom line. “Companies in particular have the power to drive change at a societal level not only by strengthening connections among employees, partners, and clients,” he argues. “But also by serving as an innovation hub that can inspire other organizations to address loneliness.”   

An engaged and strongly connected team boosts productivity. Research in 2011 by California State University and the Wharton School of Business found that a person who feels lonely at work will not just suffer themselves, but their loneliness will negatively impact the  effectiveness of the wider ecosystem. 

When surveying 672 employees and 114 supervisors across 143 work team units, the researchers found that “an employee’s work loneliness triggers emotional withdrawal from their organization, as reflected their increased surface acting and reduced affective commitment. The results also show that co-workers can recognize this loneliness and see it hindering team member effectiveness.”

Their conclusion is that management “should not treat work loneliness as a private problem that needs to be individually resolved by employees who experience this emotion; but rather should consider it as an organizational problem that needs to be addressed both for the employees’ sake and that of the organization.” 

How to Address Loneliness in the Workplace

There are many ways you can start to build more social connection into the workplace. Here are a few:

  • Build Trust: Make sure that your leadership team is modeling the kind of relationship-building that you want to see happen throughout the organization. As Murphy writes in HBR, “Having senior members of an organization invest in building strong connections with other team members can set a powerful example, especially when leaders are willing to demonstrate that vulnerability can be a source of strength, not weakness.”
  • Encourage Diverse Friendships Across Departments: The British job site Totaljobs did research into “work spouses”, a phenomenon where two people will form very close relationships with each other at work. While these friendships are very healthy, there is one drawback: 23 percent of people said they would consider quitting if their “spouse” left. Companies can offset the isolation people may feel if their work buddy leaves, by helping people build bonds across departments. Building more friendships into the fabric of the organization will make it more resilient. It’ll also make it more innovative. O.C. Tanner showed that 72 percent of great work projects involved people talking to people outside their inner circle.
  • Encourage Conversations: With all the efficiencies of modern life, many of us have lost touch with the simple art of having a conversation. Weave genuine conversations back into the workplace by setting up regular lunches or social gatherings where people can connect in an intentional way. Even things like adding five minutes of personal talk into the start of a conference call can make an enormous difference for remote workers. These small touches go a long way in making someone feel included and part of the team — and that feeling of inclusion is good for everyone. 



4 Ways to Make Your Commute Healthier and Happier

Man driving car. Working Americans are spending a lot of time behind the wheel. The U.S. Census reports that in 2016 the average American commute was 26 minutes each way. That’s nearly an hour a day on the road, five hours a week, 20 hours a month. What effect does all this time in the driver’s seat have on your body and mind?

Studies show that commuting can be very challenging for your health from its physical toll to increased stress and anxiety. Here are four ways you can reduce the negative effects and build a more healthy and happy commute:

Exercise

Even though we may be moving at 70 miles an hour down fast-moving highways, driving is largely sedentary — and one of its biggest impacts is on our physical activity. Studies have shown that a longer commuting distance adversely affects people’s physical activity and makes them more likely to be overweight and have poor cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Overcome this by finding creative ways to infuse exercise into your daily life. Take a walk during lunch time or during a break. If you sit at a desk a lot during the day, get up every hour or so and walk around the office, stretching your legs and moving your muscles. Consider waking earlier to add some physical exercise into your routine. 

Watch Your Posture

Another major negative side effect of regular driving is neck and back pain. One Gallup survey in 2010 showed that one in three employees with a commute of 90 minutes or more reported neck or back pain. A more recent study by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) showed that 14 percent of drivers experienced neck or back pain. Musculoskeletal issues are the leading cause of disability insurance claims in the U.S., and a bad driving posture can contribute to your risk of this. 

Your best line of defense is to actively check how you are sitting in the vehicle, and shift to the best possible posture. The BCA report includes a list of great recommendations on how to reduce neck pain while driving, such as aligning your steering wheel, mirrors, and adapting your back posture. There are also various subtle exercises you can do while you drive (butt clenches anyone?) Although adapting your posture and the way you hold the wheel can feel distinctly uncomfortable at first, keep practicing and it’ll soon start to feel perfectly normal. Your future body will thank you. 

Explore Flexible Hours

There is a psychological impact to our commute — and not just the road rage that flares up. A large-scale 2017 study in the United Kingdom by VitalityHealth, the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer, found that those with longer commuting distances were 33 percent more likely to suffer from depression, and 12 percent more likely to report multiple aspects of work-related stress. 

A lot of this is arising from something called “time pressure”. This is when we feel that we don’t have enough time to get things done — for example, the commuting time is eating into family time or exercise time. Address this by talking to your employer about options for flexible work hours. Can you come in and leave a little later to miss the morning and evening rush hours? Or can some of your time be spent working remotely from home to allow more yoga, exercise or family time? Show them the data: 2.7 million more Americans were doing this in 2017 than they were a decade ago. 

Change Your Perspective

If there’s nothing you can do about shifting the time of your commute, consider transforming the very way that you view that time spent in the car. Could you use it as an opportunity for self-improvement? Perhaps you can practice mindfulness during the commute, or listen to audiobooks or podcasts to educate yourself. Maybe you can start to treat it as valuable time for you to unwind and think through work problems, so that when you arrive at home, you’ll be ready to focus on your family or just relax.

Finding a way to make your commute as comfortable and enjoyable as possible will help to improve your long-term health. You’ll also enjoy those 20 hours a lot more. 




Sleep is the Most Fundamental Part of Your Daily Wellness Routine

Man waking up in bed. Most of us know that sleep is important. Our sleep — or lack thereof — can make or break a day, a job, or a relationship. With enough sleep we’re happier, healthier, more productive people. Without it, we become moody zombies who can barely remember what day it is, only that the weekend seems too far away.

We spend so much time, money, and effort on other aspects of our health and wellbeing. We pay for gym subscriptions and yoga classes. We make a mess in our kitchens every morning attempting to make a green juice that’ll somehow fix our tired minds and bodies immediately. (That, or queuing for a giant coffee becomes a top priority in our morning routine.) What if we were to invest in something utterly free — our sleep.

Sleep is Essential For Wellness

It is recommended that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. And when your colleague at work says that she can survive on just four hours a night, ignore her. While we may be able to complete a given task on less sleep than our well-rested counterparts, throw an obstacle into the equation and we’re rendered useless.

Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, authored a study on how sleep deprivation disrupts the ability of our brain cells to communicate with each other. “We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly,” he said in a statement. “This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.”

Sleep deprivation not only makes us less effective at our jobs and all areas in our life, it can also have detrimental effects on our long-term mental and physical wellbeing. A lack of sleep has been linked to anxiety and depression, while physically it can lead to conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

How to Improve Your Sleep Habit

Here are four things you can do to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep:

  • Exercise: By doing at least half an hour of exercise a day – walking, jogging, swimming, whatever gets you moving – you’re giving your body a stretch and distracting your mind from whatever stresses are plaguing you. They’ll thank you by shutting down when you need them to.
  • Eat right: This doesn’t just mean eating healthily, although of course that’s an important part of any wellness routine. There are certain foods which actually promote sleep – for instance, almonds and cereal – so by having these an an evening snack you can boost your chances of getting those zzzs in at a reasonable hour.
  • Get some fresh air: Whether it’s a hike in the mountains or a quick power walk around the block, a little fresh air can go a long way in helping you settle down at night. Or why not dine al fresco whenever’s the weather’s nice and eat your lunch in your nearest park? Your eyes will thank you for the change from your computer screen.
  • Establish an evening routine: Winding down for the night early can make all the difference in sleeping peacefully or tossing and turning until morning. Switch off those screens an hour before bedtime and do something that will help you relax. Have a bath, read a book, meditate, hang out with the cat, fold the laundry, whatever it takes. Do this regularly as a prelude to sleep and you’ll find that your brain is that much more able to unwind.

By weaving these habits into your daily routine, you’ll start to see the impacts in your wider life. With a body and mind that is well rested and alert, you’ll be that much more resilient both physically and emotionally.




5 Innovative Apps for People With Disabilities

Man with an appEver since Steve Jobs appeared on a stage with an iPhone in 2007, software has been radically changing and disrupting our world. Our phones have become virtual publishing houses, TVs, calculators, cameras, GPS devices, and countless other things. For people living with disabilities, accessible tech is making a big difference — and offering new ways to engage with the world.

This is happening on a city-wide level around the globe. One university in Seattle is pioneering a new map-based app that allows pedestrians with limited mobility to find the best routes through the city. In Toronto, a nonprofit is installing battery-powered beacons on streets to help improve accessibility for those with visual impairments. Then there’s also a whole ecosystem of apps that people can access via their phones. 

Here are five digital apps to be inspired by:

Access Now

This app was created by Maayan Ziv, whose advocacy work has won her accolades such as the David C. Onley Leadership in Accessibility Award. Ziv lives with muscular dystrophy and she created Access Now to share information about the levels of accessibility in buildings in areas throughout the world. The app allows you to search for specific types of accessibility and includes crowdsourcing via its global community map, where members of the public can update info and rate venues.

Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is an inspired app that connects people with blindness or other visual impairments with other members of the wider community. Someone can take a photo of an object — for example a gallon of milk in their fridge — upload the image, then ask a question such as, “what’s the sell-by date?” They’ll get a near-instant reply, spoken out loud via their phone’s audio. This app has been around for several years now, and at the time of writing this blog, has amassed more than 60,000 blind and low vision users and over 876,000 volunteers. 

RogerVoice

RogerVoice is a close captioning app that allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to converse in real-time. The app draws upon voice-recognition technology to transform someone’s words into text, as well as allowing people to type responses, which are then converted to voice on the other side of the call. 

MyRA

Rheumatoid arthritis is a leading cause of disability. It’s an autoimmune disease that attacks tissues close to joints and other body parts, and can affect areas throughout the body. MyRA is an app that helps people track their RA and make daily updates of how they’re feeling. A clever design makes the process visual, where they can click on areas around the body on their screens. This creates a history of data that help them discuss their condition more accurately with their physician. 

Reachout

If you’re living with either a short-term or long-term disability, there will be psychological effects. Whether it’s getting used to a completely new way of life or dealing with chronic pain, it is beneficial to have a community around you. Reachout is an app that offers an online support network for those who need one. There are groups for chronic pain, mental health, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease — as well as groups for caregivers.