1 Thing You Can Do Today

Clean your phone

The pandemic has brought hand hygiene to our attention like never before. Keeping your hands clean and off your face can protect you from all sorts of infections, including coronavirus, the flu and norovirus.

But clean hands can quickly become germy if you touch a dirty surface. Which brings us to mobile phones. How many times a day do you pick up your phone to check the time, send a message, keep up with the news, read a book, listen to podcasts, book a gym class, or order groceries?

Unless you keep your phone clean too, you risk contaminating your hands every time you want to check Instagram.

A 2017 study published in the journal Germs found that mobiles can carry a host of bacteria, viruses and pathogens, some of which can survive for days. Norovirus, for instance, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, is a born survivor and can live on hard or soft surfaces for about two weeks.

Experts recommend washing your hands several times a day, and cleaning your phone most days if you use it a lot. Here’s how:

  • Moisture can interfere with your phone’s function, so avoid spray cleaners or heavy-duty products.
  • Wash your hands before and after cleaning. Wipe gently with a product that has 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol or any product recommended by your phone’s manufacturer.
  • Don’t forget the phone case. Remove it and wipe it down, in and out. Allow to dry before replacing your phone in it.

Happy Feet

Today’s technology has drastically changed how much time we spend sitting at work, at home or while commuting each day. This change has been directly linked to an increase in certain health issues.

Research into office-based, call centre, and retail employee behaviours has revealed that more than two thirds of the working day is spent sitting. Sedentary workers also tended to spend their non-working days sitting as well, increasing the risk of health issues such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology estimated that the average American spends 55 per cent of their waking time (7.7 hours per day) in sedentary behaviours such as sitting.

Physiologist and Professor Marc Hamilton says that the cure for too much sitting isn’t exercising more, it’s spending more time on your feet and out of your chair. Of course exercising is desirable, but the average person could not do enough to counteract the effect of hours of sitting.

It’s also important not to confuse regular exercise with being active warns Doctor Peter Katzmarzyk from the Pennington Obesity Research Centre, US. You may go to the gym every day for an hour, but if you spend a good amount of time sitting each day, you are probably not leading an overall active lifestyle, and your excessive sitting could undo the benefits of your daily exercise.

On the other hand, spending too much time standing can also impact on your health.

One third of the working population spend their working days – up to 12 hours – on their feet, coming home with tired and aching feet, varicose veins, poor circulation and swelling in the legs, back pain, joint damage, and heart and circulatory issues. Thousands of work-related foot injuries are reported every year, with workers including teachers, nurses, production line, construction, and bank workers, retail staff, florists, engineers, hairdressers, police officers, and flight attendants taking sick days because of leg or foot disorders.


Foot Care Tips

If you have a sedentary job, follow these strategies to be more active:

  • stand up while talking on the phone
  • schedule mini breaks in your calendar every 20-30 minutes to stand up and stretch
  • organise standing or walking meetings (even if you are working from home)

  • walk to your colleagues’ desk instead of calling or emailing them
  • stand up while reading this article.

If you work on your feet all day, follow these tips to prevent leg and foot injuries:

  • buy proper footwear that fits your feet, preferably with leather uppers, and allow your toes to have plenty of room to wiggle and move
  • get off your feet as often as possible, and during your breaks, elevate them if you can
  • if possible, alternate shoes each day
  • soak your tired feet in water to soothe them after a long day at work.

Worried About Climate Change?

Eco-anxiety: it’s a real thing, and a normal and understandable stress response, but the problem might not be as bad as you think.

With all the doom and gloom in the media about the devastating effects of climate change, it is completely natural to feel worried.

In a way, it would be strange not to be concerned about the state of our planet and the future of humanity.

Climate change has been a major global issue for decades. We have become distracted by COVID, but even while the pandemic raged, we saw news about climate change destruction around the world: fires, floods, droughts, unusually severe storms.

As soon as the media on COVID calmed down, it was replaced by fear-inducing articles about climate change. The big COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in late 2021 also put climate change on the top of everyone’s worry list. “This is our last chance to save the planet” was the main theme. “We must act now or everything will be destroyed.”


Climate change makes many people more anxious than COVID does

Not surprisingly, this news has made many people extremely anxious. Studies have showed that even in the midst of the uncertainty of a public health pandemic, concern about climate change significantly exceeded COVID-19. Study authors said, “These attitudes were consistent across countries rich and poor, big and small: from the United States and the United Kingdom to Brazil, the Philippines, India and Nigeria.”

This fear has a name: eco-anxiety.

The American Psychological Association defines eco-anxiety as: “the chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and the associated concern for one’s future and that of next generations”


But is it as bad as we fear?

Dr Hannah Ritchie, Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University, says no.

In her article, Stop Telling Kids They Will Die From Climate Change, Ritchie points out the gap between the data and the fear-mongering.

“Let’s be clear: Climate change is one of the biggest problems we face,” says Ritchie. “It comes with many risks – some certain, some uncertain – and we’re not moving anywhere near fast enough to reduce emissions. But there seems to have been a breakdown in communication of what our future entails.”

She says things aren’t as bad as we think, and that the media messaging of certain death is making things worse. Too many people are claiming that humanity will be wiped out and annihilation is locked in, says Ritchie. “The worst thing about this message is that, rather than inspiring action, it resigns us to the falsehood that we are already too late. There is now nothing we can do.”

Ritchie points out a few key truths:

- Although government action on climate change is moving slowly, at least it’s moving and “at an increasing pace”.

- “Politicians might be slow, but technological change is not.” Renewable energy such as solar and wind power is now cheaper than coal.

- Death rates from disasters have fallen significantly over the past century. We have better technology and higher resilience to natural disasters.

So what can we do about our own eco-anxiety?

Ecotherapist Phoenix Smith says the first step is to acknowledge your feelings of fear and despair. These are a normal response to this sense of crisis, and there is no point trying to inject optimism and brush aside your negative feelings.

These feelings may be complex and intense, but only by recognising them can you begin to address them.

Then, work on balancing your over-activated nervous system. Try deep breathing mediation or yoga, and if you can, getting out into nature.

How to Manage The Great Return to the Office

Many of us may have mixed feelings about leaving behind the comfort of working from home. Yet there’s much to gain from working together with our colleagues.

Early on in the pandemic, many of us were asked to work from home. It was a huge change, but it gradually became our new ‘normal’ and we began to appreciate the benefits of flexible working. Now workplaces are opening up again, and we are being asked to return to the office. Here is how to manage your mixed feelings.

Why we might resist going back to ‘normal’.

  • You might feel anxious or uncertain about returning to the office. Remind yourself this is understandable as it is another change in a time of great upheaval. Take some time to read your employer’s return to work plan, particularly the physical distancing, cleaning and hygiene measures they have in place to minimise risk. This can help alleviate concerns about your physical safety. And look after yourself physically and mentally. Switch off from work at the end of each day, sleep well, exercise and take regular breaks at work.


  • You worry you will miss the freedoms and work-life balance of remote working.

Hybrid working may be a possibility in your workplace, which means you can still enjoy some of the flexibility you have enjoyed. Even if it is not, you can still aim to keep new routines you have developed in place, such as engaging with a new hobby or a regular morning walk.

Think about the benefits of the physical workplace, such as:

  • Social connection. For some people, working from home felt isolating and lonely without the daily informal chats with colleagues and the sense of community that the workplace can bring. Younger and newer employees in particular have felt more cut off from their teams. Being together releases oxytocin, which is a feel-good chemical in our brains.
  • Professional development. Being with colleagues in person gives you the ability to make connections, collaborate, network, and learn from others – all important for your career development. Technology has helped us connect, but we can’t read nonverbal cues as well as we can in person, and we are often limited by delays and technical glitches.