Microdosing is so 2018 - try meditation or microteching

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When we wrote The Healthy Office Revolution back in 2017. the fashion for microdosing at work was just coming into vogue in Silicon Valley. Almost two years on, we’re still reading articles about microdosing, most of which are all about its positive side.

Microdosing is taking small hits of LSD frequently - enough to feel a little bit euphoric, more attentive and productive but not so much that you hallucinate.

But, as we wrote in THOR, it makes sense to be wary of microdosing.

The not so bright side

First off, there’s something a bit depressing about taking LSD for such mundane reasons. After all, we’re talking about a drug with the power to transform the nature of perception to the point that users have profound insights into themselves and the nature of their reality that last a lifetime.

Using a fraction of that awesome power to come up with a new emoji just seems a bit crap.

We also need to remember that research into microdosing is in its infancy. The Third Wave, a pro-psychedelics website, said ‘It’s entirely possible that microdosing could have hidden harms. And if we unreservedly promote microdosing as a totally safe, tried-and-tested activity, it might only be a matter of time until someone gets hurt …’

Although slight, dangers could include psychological addiction, raised anxiety levels and might possibly include affecting a microdoser’s physical health.

There’s also the risk of realising that your work is utterly pointless. In her Medium story, Microdosing Isn’t a Shortcut to Professional Success, former microdoser Erica Avey writes that microdosing ‘reconnects regions of the brain and reroutes maladaptive thought patterns, so profound life changes — not just heightened productivity — may take shape.‘

In Erica’s case, this meant quitting a job she actually liked.

Use the physiology the unverse or whatever gave you

Erika makes the excellent point that ‘We don’t need to change our biology to be better at work, we need to change the way we work to be better for our biology.’

But, if we can’t change our work and we want to keep our job, we can enjoy similar effects to microdosing through mindfulness and meditation practices.

OK, 10 minutes’ meditation won’t have such a dramatic effect as dropping a microdose of acid but it can energise you, change your mood and help you see things differently. If you build up a meditation or mindfulness practice over time it becomes easier and easier to slip into a mindful state.

Or, if meditation and mindfulness aren’t for you, buy yourself a mind machine. David, co-author of THOR, uses his mind machine to regularise his brainwaves once a week and feels the effects for a good couple of days. His mood improves and, best of all, he feels inspired creatively. The mind machine David swears by is also used by medical practitioners and therapists and has been tested thoroughly.

The thing is, changing your physiology in any way can never be entirely risk-free. But if you’re using your body’s natural biology to change your mind or tech that’s been thoroughly tested and is recommended by medical professionals, you’re a long way away from gambling with your sanity.

The rise and rise of health trackers at work

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Wearable devices that tracked employee movement and sleeping patterns helped enable the groundbreaking research at the heart of The Healthy Office Revolution. We’re fans.

So we weren’t surprised to read in a round-up of the biggest workplace trends to watch in 2019 that ‘health tracking is expected to see significant growth in 2019’. Apparently, employers are starting to include devices like Apple Watches in workplace wellness plans. The report goes on to say that ‘It is anticipated that by 2021, 90 percent of wellness plans in the U.S. will include health trackers.’

There are all sorts of privacy issues around gathering data on employees in this way. But, from where we’re standing, a greater use of activity trackers has enormous potential to help make workplaces more healthy.

It’s up to employers

The employees who wore activity trackers as part of Liz’s research grew to love them. No-one ever said they felt spied upon for sinister reasons.

Liz’s research proved that people want to be healthy in their workspace. They appreciate organisations that take steps to create healthy working environments.

Employers that do ask their people to wear activity trackers should also accept that they have a responsibility to do everything they can to keep these valuable employees healthy at work. After all, it’s employers who create the conditions that cause stress and burnout. Not employees.

And, as Liz’s research proved, it’s easy and inexpensive to change the way people work so that they become more healthy. You just have to want to do it.

Is sleeping on the job the new trend for 2019?

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It’s coming up for two years since we wrote The Healthy Office Revolution (THOR) and, in the Research section of the book, emphasised the benefits of natural light and greenery in offices.

A recent article by office design and space build specialists K2 referenced a survey by the company conducted with the UK’s YouGov which revealed that one in three out of a 1000 people surveyed said they would like to see more natural light in their workspace.

The same article identified greening offices as a trend to watch in 2019, 'as more and more organizations add shrubbery and plants to their offices, as well as green moss and living walls’.

While it’s always nice to be ahead of the curve, it’s more important that changes to office ecosystems such as incorporating more natural light and greenery are placed in context. As we said in THOR, ‘to be truly effective, they ‘had to be part of an entire office environment revolution’.

One thing we’re surprised the K2 piece doesn’t include is ‘nap rooms’. As Liz said not so long ago, ‘I’m hearing that more young people coming in to offices are asking where the nap room is'.

So why is the option to sleep on the job becoming increasingly popular with the new generation of employees?

Naps boost productivity

As with everything companies introduce that sounds like it could be an indulgence, there’s sound business logic behind nap rooms.

According to Sleep.org, ‘29 percent of workers report falling asleep or becoming very sleepy at work, and a lack of sleep costs the United States $63 billion each year in lost productivity. But a short twenty-minute nap can boost alertness and improve performance—both important when you’re on the job. ‘

But, as with introducing natural light and more greenery, it’s vital to think about the entire office ecosystem.

If a potential employee is being shown round the office and the first thing they want to know is where they can sleep, it doesn’t suggest that they’re overly enthusiastic about what they’re being shown does it?

We’re all for anything that will make offices healthier places to be, improving employee well-being at work and increasing productivity but what looks like inspiring trends have to be placed in context.

It’s all about joining the dots so where we work, what we do and how we do it are as healthy as possible. Otherwise, you could find your prized new employees hiding out in the nap room or gazing up at a living wall for hours on end.

Can yoga really make offices better? An interview with yogi Rachel Johnston

Yoga teacher Rachel Johnston has an unusual approach to the practice she’s taught successfully in the offices of corporations and other organisations. We talked to her about yoga, movement and what needs to happen for the benefits of yoga to be really felt in the office.

What’s different about the way you teach yoga, Rachel?

I started yoga as a particularly active 16-year-old who was very into movement, especially dance. I now bring in inspiration from other movement modalities into my asana teaching because I don’t see a separation between them and the physical aspects of yoga. The variation is enormously valuable.

How did the corporate classes come about?

I started teaching for Stretching The City, an excellent organisation that offers yoga to firms in the City of London, mainly financial organisations and advertising agencies. Highly stressful environments where people work long hours sitting at their desks. Sessions happen at lunch time or immediately after work.

Was it effective?

I ended up using my teaching sessions as a way to introduce people to the concept of making their office environment more movement and mind-body friendly. I want the effects of yoga and movement to be felt in the office all the time, not just for an hour.

Why?

I believe that you are the way you move. So it’s all very well going in and doing an hour’s yoga but that doesn’t change the rest of your day at the office.

I found that while organisations were open to yoga, the actual office environment was often not so great. For instance, the aircon in the offices I went to was so often too hot or cold. Windows were sealed so the air was stale. I was told it was because of the risk of people jumping out the window! The lights in these places are also very bright, presumably to keep people awake.

What was the mix of women and men?

We did tend to get mostly women as much as we tried to keep it mixed. Often it would be the receptionists and secretaries. We were less likely to get people doing the really high-powered jobs. The people most stressed were least likely to do yoga.

Do you believe that yoga makes people change? That you almost don’t have a choice?

I do. It’s the same for any practice combining mind and body.

How do you teach yoga in offices now?

It’s a skills-based practice. We always start with some sort of breathing practice and a gentle warm-up. Then I offer something to help people in everyday working life. I show them everything from how to relax their hamstrings to resting their eyes by looking out the window at the horizon.

We do yoga poses but my focus is on teaching people ways to do adapt these to their own particular body structure. We always do some kneeling and a squat. Our bodies are actually designed for three things – lying down, standing up and squatting. Squatting is vital for a healthy spine, knees and ankles. I want people to still be able to squat when they’re 70.

I also ask people to think about their walking patterns around the office – to walk as much as possible, as well as going outside into the fresh air when they can. It’s about using the context of yoga to help people think about movement.

What about the relaxation at the end of the class? Doesn’t it leave people too relaxed for work?

I think it’s nice to send people back to work calm. But don’t forget we’re talking about an active relaxation. It’s not like waking up groggy from a nap. Relaxation is a great way of imbedding new information in your brain.

Do you come across companies and people who are resistant to yoga?

There are still preconceptions about what yoga is and who can do it. One of the most common things I hear is ‘Oh, I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible’.

I always say ‘You’re in the right place then’.

We also have to remember that people have fears related to their body image and a simple lack of knowledge about what their bodies can actually do. I love it when I help a person overcome their fear and do a headstand, something they may never have done before in their life. It’s a small thing but it often feels like a real achievement to them.

Time is also a factor. Some organisations believe offering yoga is a good thing but they only want people to take 45-minutes for the class rather than a full hour. And it isn’t just companies claiming to be time-poor. In office culture, being seen as busy-busy- busy is a mark of status. I’ve had experiences where the organisation itself thinks yoga at work is a great idea but its people are worried about setting aside the time.

What needs to happen for an office-yoga movement to grow?

There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way we think about movement before yoga is more widely accepted. For the sake of convenience, we’ve got rid of all the natural movement that would have happened throughout our day in the past. Now we have to take exercise rather than simply moving.

Working in offices, especially, takes so much movement out of our days so we need to put it back in. We should be mindful about movement in offices all the time and creating workspaces that really are for human bodies.

One of the organisations I approached had a great idea for how to encourage yoga in their workplace. They suggested training one person from each department to teach yoga. These people would become champions for the practice. Other employees would also be more receptive because they’d see that it’s possible for pretty much anyone to become a yoga teacher. I thought that was excellent.

Why do you think the corporate world isn’t encouraging more yoga and movement awareness? They always talk about people being their biggest asset.

To be honest, I don’t know. As far as I can see, anything that makes people healthier and happier at work means they get more done. They also take less time off work. Perhaps business simply feels it doesn’t really matter, which would obviously be wrong.

Before we finish, if you could tell people to do one thing at work to make themselves feel better what would it be?

Take your shoes off. When your feet are restricted, so is everything else about your body. I like to leave people with tennis balls so they can massage the soles of their feet when they’re working. You should try it.

Thanks Rachel. We definitely will. While we imagine offices filled with smiling, barefoot people moving gracefully as they work.

Find out more about Rachel and her wonderfully different approach to yoga at www.rachel-and-yoga.com.

 www.stretchingthecity.com