The increase in remote working the COVID 19 pandemic mean spending more time in our own homes.  Here's how to create a happy haven...

Home detox top tips ... creating a clean, safe and calming environment

Studies have found that air inside our homes is more polluted than the air outdoors due to the build up of gases,  dust particles and contaminants.  These can lead to headaches,  irritation of the mucus membranes and skin. 

  • Every home should have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that are checked weekly
  • Reduce your indoor pollution by opening your windows daily although hay fever sufferers will need to close them when the pollen count is high
  • Cutting your use of cleaning products containing toxins can also help - steam cleaners and microfibre cloths are effective with just water although they need to be washed frequently
  • A mix of equal parts of white vinegar and water works well on mirrors, windows and most surfaces although it is best to test on a small area to see how it copes with the acidity.  
  • Plants absorb carbon monoxide and other pollutants but you would need to turn your house into a jungle for it to have a significant air-cleaning effect.  However having some greenery in your home reduces stress and boosts mental health
  • a de-cluttering spree can help make your home a more calming environment and means you are surrounded by the things that really matter to you
  • Humidity encourages bacteria and mould so cover pans when cooking, use an extractor fan and open the bathroom window after showering

Summer food hygiene... keeping tummy bugs at bay when eating outdoors

As temperatures start to rise so do cases of food poisoning.  During the summer,  the Food Standards Agency advises keeping an eye on the temperature of your fridge.  It needs to be 5 degrees C to prevent bacteria growth.  BBQs and al fresco eating are also common sources of tummy upsets.  Once you take raw meat out of your fridge,  bacteria on it can multiply quickly so it should be kept away from other foods.  Always wash your hands after handling meat and use a separate set of utensils.  When barbecuing, make sure meat is cooked all the way through and the juices run clear.  

  • Cut through the thickest part of the meat to check there is no pink left - this is especially important with burgers as the mincing process can transfer bacteria that's normally just on the outside of meat to the inside
  • Protect all food from flies with mesh covers or clean tea towels
  • Throw leftovers away rather than putting back in the fridge
  • DON'T defrost food at room temperature - you should defrost in the fridge or in the microwave using the defrost settings
  • Make sure your barbecue is hot enough before you start cooking - the coals should be glowing red and covered in grey powder.  Refer to the instructions for gas barbecues
  • Consider pre-cooking meat in the oven and finishing it off on the barbecue for that authentic chargrilled taste

Keep fit at home

There are many ways to exercise at home.  Gardening can provide a whole-body workout and figures from Harvard Medical School show that 30 minutes of digging, mowing or weeding uses a similar number of calories as a badminton or yoga session.  Exercises that use your own body weight require no equipment eg press ups, squats and planks. To maximum benefit and reduce injury it's best to find some clear instruction videos online before you start.  

  • Beginners could try the NHS Strength and Flex exercise plan - a series of podcasts on NHS website which also has a wide range of 10 minute sessions and gym free workouts you can do at home
  • You can also buy some inexpensive but very effective home exercise equipment such as a skipping rope. The average person will burn up to 200 calories in 15 minutes.
  • Make your own dumbbells by filling plastic water bottles with gravel or dried pulses
  • Always warm up for at least 5 minutes before exercising
  • Get on your floor and dance - learn a simple cha cha cha 
  • Sticking to a home exercise programme takes self-discipline so make a regular time for it, as you would for other important activities

Keep your tech use in check

Research shows that many adults now spend around a day a week online with 16 hours of that on a smart phone.  Social media is an important way to stay connected to others but too much can get  in the way of family interaction and a barrage of bad news, online bickering and other peope shwing their 'perfect' lives can drag you down.

  • Don't scroll down your phone or tablet at bedtime as research shows that the light given off from screens interferes with the production of sleep hormone melatonin and can lead to insomnia and disturbed sleep
  • Cut your screen time including turning off the automatic alerts 
  • If working from home it's a good idea to find a quiet corner that you can turn into a workplace - working at the kitchen table or on your laptop on your sofa means you're likely to end up with back or neck pain
  • Wear a watch so you don't have to keep looking at your phone to check the time
  • Ban screens at certain times of the day ie during meal times or when walking the dog
  • If you'e working from home try the Pomodoro Technique of working solidly for 25 minutes and then taking a 5 minute break