With the Coronavirus outbreak and pandemic, more and more people are doing their part for social distancing, which means spending even more time inside. Over the past 20 years, the amount of time the average person spends inside has risen up to 90 percent each day. That’s up to 22 hours inside each day…
During this challenging time, there are a few things you can do to help with your health, and a few steps you can take to increase the wellness quotient of where you live, especially moving forward – post coronavirus.
With Architectural Medicine focused on health in the built environment, here are 5 things to do at home for better health and wellness during the Coronavirus pandemic.
5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Home Healthier for Now and Into the Future:
Here’s the list, with more in-depth details posted below. There is also a bonus factor added, which might provide an opportunity to both learn and create projects during this time inside. And this can be helpful in your built environment now and moving forward!
- Fresh, clean air is critical during the time of a respiratory virus, and making sure you have clean, fresh air can help you to remain healthy. Making sure that your air is clean means that you are striving to improve air quality and remove potential issues – from Particulates and VOC’s to Pesticides and Mold:
- If you live in an area that has fresh outside air and you aren’t near other houses/buildings (people), now is a good time to air out your home and have an early spring cleaning
- Be sure to use detergents and cleaners that can create clean environments, yet also are non-toxic — remember that pets and children are closer to the floors, so keeping your spaces cleaner helps to maintain good health
- When you vacuum, keep in mind that some vacuums can blow more dust into the air during the process, unless you have a HEPA vacuum, so taking time to clean when children, the elderly and pets are not in the same area you are cleaning can help their respiratory health
- Try to get natural light each day, especially if you are spending more time indoors.
- If you can limit the amount of blue light before bedtime, this has been shown to help with better sleeping
- Read more about the benefits of nature on the Biophilia page here
- Your sleeping area is critical in maintaining and supporting your health – good sleep means a better chance for your immune system to rejuvenate
- Clean your sleeping areas, sheets and pillow cases and try to provide fresh air in these locations
- Remove clutter that can create emotional and mental distractions in your sleeping area, so that your mind can relax for better rest
- Take some time to improve your lighting, reduce noises (if possible) and provide soothing designs to help you to relax as you prepare for sleep and allow yourself to wake up in comfort
- Providing comfortable lighting, decreasing loud sounds, increasing enjoyable music, and providing visually uplifting images, photos, artwork and other designs can help your physiological, emotional and mental health
- Now is a good time to evaluate your home in terms of Air Quality
- Keeping your HVAC systems and heating/cooling devices properly maintained can support your health over time
- With more time spent indoors, these detector(s) added to your home, such as those that monitor carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide, along with the important fire alarms, can provide sensors to help you protect and improve your health
- Interested in an Air Quality project to keep you busy? Go to Some Extra Activities to Keep You and Your Family Busy While Being Educational
Ok, that’s five…yet here are a few others ideas that might be helpful and interesting during this time. This also includes a home project that you can build to test and evaluate indoor air quality. Keep in mind that while these devices may NOT measure viruses such as the coronavirus, they can help with cleaner air quality at large.
It’s also very important to take care of your health in all facets – physically, mentally and emotionally…
Keep in Mind and Be Aware of the Different Facets of Your Health – Physically, Mentally and Emotionally
Your Physical Health is critical at this time and some best tips to maintain your health are to be sure to keep your built environment clean. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have excellent tips and steps you can review for safety:
This is helpful to reduce the spreading of the coronavirus, yet it is also critical for your own personal health if you live alone. Fresh air, clean environments and making sure you are eating healthy and exercising can help you maintain good health.
Your Mental or Psychological Health is also critical to focus on at this time. Making sure that you can feel less fear and anxiety can be extremely helpful. Taking some time to just focus on your breathe and to perhaps start or work on a meditation practice, can help to reduce your fears and improve your relaxation. This can help reduce stress and maintain your health. Comfortable lighting, sounds/music and comfortable environments can help to nurture you and your loved ones during this time.
And then don’t forget about your Emotional Health. Taking care of how you are feeling, especially when you might have found solace in the past through socializing, is critical to maintaining health. Finding other people to talk to virtually or using the old fashioned phone, can help you to feel more connected.
Taking walks and getting outside can also be helpful, if this is proper for where you are in the world. Social distancing does not mean you have to remove yourself socially, it just means you can be creative and find other ways to connect. The nurturing facets of shelter have taken care of humans for millennia, now is the time to tap into these human necessities to find comfort and nurturing.
Some Extra Activities to Keep You and Your Family Busy While Being Educational
In terms of activities, one of the things you can do at this time in spending more time indoors with your kids, your partner, or your family is to make a home sensor system to monitor indoor air quality and pollutants.
Not only is checking on your typical fire alarms and CO and CO2 devices a good idea, you can also build kits that help to provide more information about your built environment air quality with specific metrics and data.
The benefits to this are not only the process of keeping busy and helping you and yours to keep your environments healthier, yet can also be a good time to learn new skills. The world of indoor and personal sensors is perfect to explore during times such as this, and can provide you with another skill for the future.
There are kits that are easy to assemble, from the Raspberry Pi and Arduino kits, to the more professional kits made by the Particle company. There are also the more professional monitoring kits for indoor and outdoor monitoring from Purple Air that are pre-assembled. The Purple Air Quality map is a great resource for Air Quality.
These devices mostly measure particulates and gases, which are not the bioaerosols that you monitor for the current coronavirus, yet they are still valuable to keep your built environment monitored for pollutants. They can be particularly valuable when you add sensors that measure Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, and other Gas sensors and Particulate counters for the common PM2.5 and PM10 particulates.
Some of these kits require that you do some coding, yet the starter kits for the Raspberry Pi and Arduino are actually very simple and easy to setup. There are great online tutorials that you can follow, and the process is both easy and rewarding as well as affordable.
By learning about the various pollutants, gases and potential air quality issues in your built environments, it can provide information about building health related to your own health. This can also lead to more knowledge of one’s personal health and can be a valuable teaching tool for the education of children (of all ages), where they better understand how these contaminants impact one’s health.
Here are some quick links to these companies/options (We’re not connected to any of these companies, yet we’ve built and worked with all of these projects over the years):
- Raspberry Pi: https://www.raspberrypi.org/
- Air Quality project: https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/monitor-air-quality-with-a-raspberry-pi/
- Arduino: https://www.arduino.cc/
- Particle: https://docs.particle.io/quickstart/aqmk-project/
- Purple Air: https://www2.purpleair.com/collections/air-quality-sensors
If you’ve never been to the air quality monitoring mapping website by Purple Air, it’s worth a visit!:
And here’s an instructables guide to an Air Quality Monitoring kit:
These projects can provide a connection to the current situation that can, at times, feel as if you have no control. This may not provide control, yet it can be something actionable that provides some form of comfort while learning something new.
It can also provide good skills of taking an idea and making it a reality. Learning to work with electronics and coding related it to the physical environment, can show how you are independent yet interdependent in this world. It can also help you and your family to learn more about epidemiology and public health.
Architectural Medicine recognizes the benefit that these sensors and devices can provide, especially in cities and urban locations, where such data can help provide Bioinformatics for Public Health and Epidemiologists.
And speaking of air quality, the questions of air filters is often on people’s minds at times such as this…
Looking for Air Filters That Can Help to Create Better Indoor Air Quality?
While there are different air quality brands, there are often two main products that help with air quality from a portable system or a built in HVAC system perspective. There are the air cleaning devices, which often use HEPA type filters and carbon filters, and then there are other devices that destroy the particles and germs such as the Molekule devices. The Molekule devices actually destroy the allergens and bacteria in the areas that it is placed, as opposed to using a filter to trap the particulates. The HEPA/Carbon filter devices can be very beneficial for those with allergies and asthma.
There are many options, yet a few that you can read about are:
- Austin Air Filters: https://austinair.com/
- HEPA/Carbon filtration devices
- The Corsi-Rosenthal Box: https://aghealth.ucdavis.edu/news/corsi-rosenthal-box-diy-box-fan-air-filter-covid-19-and-wildfire-smoke
- DIY Box Fan Air Filter for COVID-19 and Wildfire Smoke
Why Air Cleaning Devices?
Keep in mind that using perfumes or other sprays may only mask the smells and pollutants, especially if they are strong smells. You may not smell the issue that these perfumes are covering, replacing or overloading your olfactory system, yet the smell and pollutants are still there. To remove the smells you may need to heed a term used in some building circles where you may not be able to have filtration systems in place, which is:
The Solution to Pollution is Dilution.
This is particularly important for areas where children and those with compromised immune systems are living and spending time, as well as pets. Keep in mind that children and pets are much lower to the ground and often spend more time on and near the ground. This means they can be more susceptible to particulates and other contaminants.
Clean water is another focus that can help with your health. If you already have good quality water, then this may not be a focus. Yet if you’d like to improve your water quality, here are some options. There are many debates about water filtration such as reverse osmosis and the various types that filtration systems that can remove contaminants advertised about water quality, yet often a good approach is to keep it simple by removing the most common pollutants to improve your water for better health.
There are either solids that are being filtered, or volatile compounds, such as chlorine and other aerosols. Of which Coronovirus is a bioaerosol, so while you may not have this in your water systems, keep in mind that keeping objects, surfaces and materials clean from these aerosols, can provide better health and easier breathing.
And finally, a note about the word corona…
Word origins can be very interesting, and this virus can be seen as fitting this description. The word corona is based on the word crown, as the virus itself has spikes that are visually similar to crowns.
A question you may ask is, will this virus defeat humanity or will we find solutions and provide these collaborative efforts as a “Crowning” achievement. Only the future will provide these answers, yet this process of self-distancing, self-observation and contemplation can provide a time for us to view our lives in a different way. And perhaps, if we can find a new perspective, we can find facets of our lives and our built environments that can benefit from dealing with such challenging and hard to navigate times:
1650s, “a crown,” from Latin corona “a crown, a garland,” in ancient Rome especially “a crown or garland bestowed for distinguished military service,” from suffixed form of PIE root *sker- (2) “to turn, bend.”
With many extended senses in botany, anatomy, etc. A coronavirus (by 1969) is so called for the spikes that protrude from its membranes and resemble the tines of a crown or the corona of the sun.