Immunity.

The news these days is pretty depressing and anxiety-inducing. It has been for months now with a constant call to worry. There are lots of stories on how to block the external threats facing us. Wear masks. Wash hands. Avoid people.

Something which is not forced upon us very often is the need to manage our own immune system. In my estimation this must be at least half of the COVID equation. But it isn’t getting half of the airtime.

So what do we get when we search for how to boost immune systems?

  1. Get enough sleep. Sleep and immunity are closely tied.
  2. Eat more whole plant foods.
  3. Eat more healthy fats.
  4. Eat more fermented foods or take a probiotic supplement.
  5. Limit added sugars.
  6. Engage in moderate exercise.
  7. Stay hydrated.
  8. Manage your stress levels.

A lot of this is about what we put into our stomachs. Then there’s exercise, stress, and sleep.

Kids hit my sleep patterns hard, but I am getting brutal about early nights.

I need to lay off the sugar and drink more water.

Exercise and social interaction lowers my stress.

Here’s to starting another streak of writing!

Happy Friday chimps.

No phone day

I only looked at my phone once today before writing this.

It was refreshing. I also ate no sugar. I had more energy.

It’s strange, the things we’ll do on lockdown.

Happy Wednesday chimps.

Design impacts Art & Design impacts Health. Therefore Health = Art.

Odd title, let me explain.

In reading about the impact of design and space on our wellbeing, I have come more and more to believe in well designed homes as a source of wellbeing. Conversely poorly designed homes are bad for our long term health. Certain spaces will create stress or isolation, and others will create relaxation and communion. Healthy spaces should account for all stimuli entering the brain through all the senses.

So far so good. I imagine, dear reader, that you are with me on this…or at least you are willing to entertain the notion that a room full of comfy couches, mellow music, warm lighting and sweet lavender smells is better for our health than a damp, dark basement with odours of rat poo.

But this is where my mind makes a weird connection, so as Samuel L Jackson famously said about the dinosaurs: “hold on to your butts”.

I recently came across this quartz article which looks at the impact of headphones on media and pop music: link I found myself nodding to the words throughout the article. Media has become a certain way (mainly bass heavy music or intimate chats in the form of podcasts) because of its main mode of consumption – headphones which have tiny speakers and offer a private signal direct to your brain. The design of the headphones affects the media in exactly the same way the design of your house affects your wellbeing.

Think of wellbeing as a piece of amorphous art you need to try and shape with whatever you have at your disposal. Just like the music that is shaped by the arenas, churches or headphones in which it is played. Life is a song. Life is art. I’m sure those are old, cheesy sayings but they suddenly make a lot of sense to me.

Christmas is upon us like a tidal wave now. I have started to crank some soulful Christmas carols and hang some sweet smelling decorations for my family’s wellbeing and communion if nothing else.

Happy Friday chimps.

Smelling in stereo

Although we often think of the word “stereo” relating to music, what it actually means is “relating to a three dimensional effect”. We smell in stereo.

From my great new book:

“Though humans’ nostrils are only about two centimeters apart, this is sufficient for people to detect slight differences in the concentration of a scent cloud, and thus provides information about the scent’s location and source.”

Humans can be trained to track scents like dogs, and when they do, they zig zag across the trail, just like dogs, chasing the higher chemical concentrations to the smell’s source.

It makes me think that Perfume and deodorant are to scent what headphones are to music – giving our brains close proximity to the pleasant sensations….and all of it in stereo.

It blows my mind how much we take our senses for granted. Smell, sound, touch – all of them have a huge impact on our enjoyment, health and peace of mind.

So says my new book, and who am I to argue with that? 😉

Happy Friday chimps.

If you do nothing

If you do nothing then the ants and rats and algae will come. They start in the shadows, taking the grime and food and dirt that builds up around the edges. But the more they get away with it, the bolder they will get.

Soon your pool is green. Soon your house has an ant trail marching all the way into the kitchen and back to an underground nest. Soon the rats are so emboldened they find a way into your dustbins, your garage, your car.

Atrophy is the enemy. His best friends are algae, ants and rats. Fight back.

Room design

I change the set up of my house quite frequently. It’s not something I thought I would become interested in, but interior design can impact your health, your mood, your daily movement.

The latest casualty is our bedroom. There is a small flight of stairs leading into the room. It used to be that as soon as you walked down the three or four stairs, our bedside table got in your way, then our bed got in your way. You had to make a hard left turn to get anywhere else in the room.

Now the bed and table are the other side of the room, freeing up the entry. The “Flow” of the room (ha! I’m writing about “room flow”) is so much better now that you can walk down the stairs and just keep on going. If you like you can keep going all the way through the room, unimpeded to the garden. It’s amazing how much difference this one change has made.

I also rigged up a sweet Hifi system in the bedroom using an old amp with Denon speakers and a chromecast. Check out the photos on the @chimpwithcans Instagram page if you like.

I can just feel the different vibe in the room. There is a “flow” as you arrive, and the music makes you want to stay.

Happy work environment

A big, broad work desk. In a quiet and comfortable office. My ideal workspace is clear of clutter and has access to the net and electricity for the laptop. There’s light enough to see. It smells nice. I have art on the wall.

Setting up my office and desk multiplies out over months and years. Over time, being comfortable at work adds up to a career and my own personal health. In many corporates we are not given the option to customize our workspace, which is a shame. I’m very lucky to have an office at home which I can adjust.

Like anything, a work space is subject to atrophy and creeping chaos over time. Clutter builds up in the most annoying way. If the size of the desk is wrong, or the seating is bad, or the connectivity options are not there it can have a huge impact on what I can achieve on any given day. The balance needs to be maintained or else it will fall apart. Next time you sit down to work, have a run through your senses. What does it feel like, smell like, what can you hear? What can you see around you? (lets assume you eat somewhere else and leave taste for now!).

At one point, I had a bad work chair hurting my back, there was not enough light to see properly, and dead rats in my office roof were stinking the place out. I was one step away from a human rights violation in my own home!

A new roof, some lighting and an ergonomic chair means my big, broad work desk is far more inviting. I have art on the wall. I have music. I have electricity. I have the internet. Most satisfying.

Rehydrate…mate

My daughter once was hospitalized and became dehydrated from the sickness. Part of her recovery was to take rehydration formula. She got better, but we have bags of formula left in our house.

Like a teenager sneaking sips of his Dad’s whiskey, I have been pilfering the formula after my runs. I feel guilty, but I also feel great!

I’m going to have to invest in some man-sized rehydration packs because I am nearly out of my infants stash….which seems to be the good stuff.

If you feel groggy or tired or stiff, rehydrate…mate.

Match

Are you more of a corporate manager, or a children’s show presenter?

Do you have the time to enter an ultramarathon or are you better off focusing on the problems in front of you?

Will a holiday away actually be relaxing for you? Or should you rather sleep in at home?

Will you benefit from buying that new iPhone, or should you put the money into a savings account?

I think all of the options above are valid. They just need to match up with the rest of your life to avoid angst.