It’s time to lay out goals and commit to a happier, healthier new year!
But it isn’t always easy to stay true to resolutions, and many of us fall in the familiar pattern of returning to our old ways by mid February. Sometimes the best way to stick to your resolutions is to make sure they’re easy to achieve so they can quickly become part of your routine.
If you’re looking to be healthy this year, the easiest place to start is with your air!
Many of us take for granted that the air we’re breathing is healthy and safe since it’s not something we can typically see–but this isn’t the case, especially for air that’s indoors. In fact, indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoors, which can affect allergies, asthma, our ability to concentrate, the quality of our sleep, and more. Particularly “unhealthy” or “bad” air can even cause a variety of health problems, including dry skin and eyes, coughing and sneezing, headaches, hives, and nausea.
Don’t worry! Surrounding yourself with healthy air is easier than you think–the first step is understanding what’s in your air so you can make a few small changes to stay safe and healthy. To get started, here are five tips you can do year-round for healthy air:
Reduce Your Chemical Intake
Our air is filled with a variety of different factors that determine how healthy it is, from dust, to carbon dioxide, to its levels of humidity, to its most underestimated ingredient–chemicals.
The type of chemicals typically found in your air are called VOC’s: volatile organic compounds. “VOC” is an umbrella term used to describe any organic chemical that evaporates easily at room temperature–and this trait is what helps make VOCs very common.
VOCs can sometimes come in scary packages–like Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Acetone. Once these chemicals are released in your air, they can easily travel into your lungs and, eventually, blood stream.
Short-term side effects of VOCs include headaches as well as itchy eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Too much exposure to VOCs has also been linked to eczema flare-ups, acne breakouts, hives, allergies, asthma attacks, and cancer.
Unfortunately, it’s very easy to accidentally increase the levels of chemicals in the air in our homes–VOCs are virtually everywhere. You’ll find VOCs in the ingredients list in paint, cleaning supplies, common household products, adhesives–even cribs and other furniture.
You can limit the amount of VOCs in the air in your home with plenty of fresh air–try to run fans and open windows during activities such as cooking, cleaning, and painting. You can also place a few air cleaning plants around your home, which will help pull extra toxins from your air.
Be More Strict with Dust
Did you know one piece of dust contains a potpourri of unpleasant items, like dead skin, mold spores, pieces of dead insects, and pet dander?
Dust can cause itchiness, asthma, eczema, and hay fever. Exposure to dust mites has also been linked to conjunctivitis, hypersensitive pneumonia, and both allergic and migraine headaches.
Your house can have dust mites even if it isn’t very dirty. Sometimes cleaning can do more harm than good–vacuuming can stir up dust mites off your carpet and into the air.
How can you get rid of dust mites, then? Dust mites love dark, moist places, with temperatures of 70℉ or higher and humidity over 75%. Regulating your temperature and humidity can help prevent dust mites from spreading throughout your house. If you see dust on your furniture, ditch a feather duster and opt for a microfiber cloth or damp cloth to effectively trap and eliminate dust.
Control Your Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide is by no means a toxic gas–it’s a very natural ingredient in the air we breathe. Humans play a role in adding carbon dioxide to our air, since we exhale about 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide every day. While we may not notice carbon dioxide in our air the same way we would for other gases, it’s very important to keep it in moderation.
If there’s an above-average amount of carbon dioxide in the air you’re breathing, you’ll begin to notice some side effects, including decreased productivity, headaches, difficulty making decisions, drowsiness, and difficulty sleeping.
Luckily, lowering the levels of CO2 in your house is as easy letting some air in. Opening windows, sleeping with your door open, or buying a few air cleaning plants will keep a healthy amount of carbon dioxide in your air.
Be Mindful of Humidity
Humidity plays an important role in your overall comfort, and too high or low humidity can cause health problems. You are the most comfortable when the relative humidity of the air around you is between 20% and 60%.
If your indoor humidity climbs above 60%, you begin to risk mold and mildew growth in your home. On the other hand, if your indoor humidity is below 20%, you’ll start to experience eye, nose, skin, and throat irritation. If you wear contact lenses, they can become irritated when the humidity is too low.
Let Your Temperature Work for You
Temperature affects you in more ways than you realize–studies show that significant changes in temperature can cause you to become less productive and have trouble completing physical and mental tasks. Some studies have also proven that temperature can negatively impact your quality of sleep.
For the best comfort and productivity, stick to two temperature ranges, depending on the time of year:
Summer: 73℉ – 79℉
Winter: 68℉ – 76℉
And if you’re aiming for peak work performance, your productivity is at its best between 70℉ and 72℉.
Maintaining your indoor temperature is important beyond comfort and productivity–when temperatures are high, the chemicals found in buildings will leak into your air at a faster rate.
Take the guesswork out of keeping your air clean with an indoor air quality monitor, like Awair. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air and gives you personalized recommendations to help you stay safe and healthy.