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A Doctor’s Healthy AM to PM Routine While Working from Home

By Dr. Kate Henry

Having a daily routine benefits your mind, body, and spirit. It’s why I still choose to stick to a tight regimen even when I work from home. I’m sharing my healthy schedule with you here with the hope that it will help you feel and perform at your best, too.

6:30 am: Wake Up with the Sun and Meditate

Our nervous systems operate on a 24-hour cycle that is synced up with the sun. When we wake up around sunrise, we naturally produce an optimal amount of cortisol—a hormone that keeps inflammation low and in turn improves mood and cognition. It’s the most natural form of medicine there is. To take advantage of this biohack, I set my alarm for 6:30 am and open my blinds as soon as I get up to let natural light into my room. 

Next, I’ll find a comfortable spot to sit and take a few deep breaths. Studies show that meditation helps to promote focus and attention for the rest of the day. To try it yourself, just sit quietly in a comfortable position and allow yourself a few minutes to breathe slowly in and out with an attempt to clear your mind. You’ll notice an immediate sense of calm, followed by an increased ability to focus for the next few hours. Now, you’re ready for the day!

7:00 am: Tea or Coffee with Collagen

Your body loses a significant amount of fluid during sleep through your sweat and breath, so it’s important to hydrate soon after waking up. I usually choose a big glass of water and a mug of organic tea or coffee. To amp up the nutritional content, I’ll add a scoop of collagen peptides to whatever hot liquid drink I’m consuming that day. The collagen dissolves and is tasteless, so it’s a painless way to get yourself closer to your protein goals. Collagen peptides also provide the building blocks for collagen synthesis in your own body, and therefore help to keep your skin healthy, promote wound healing, and even assist with joint repair.

People are sometimes surprised to hear that I occasionally drink a cup of coffee in the mornings. There’s a lot of hype about coffee being bad for you, and for good reason; most caffeinated drinks contain tons of additives like sugar, milk, and flavorings, which can be harmful to health. My training as an herbalist, however, taught me that the coffee bean itself is a plant with incredible medicinal properties. Its antioxidants can be a part of a healthy routine when used in moderation and as long as you don’t have any preexisting conditions like kidney or heart issues. Chat with your doctor more if you’re wondering if coffee could be a healthful part of your routine. If you choose to consume it, make sure to get an organic coffee to avoid drinking pesticides and herbicides.

7:30 am-9:00am Focused Writing 

I do my best writing in the morning when I have the best chance of minimizing distractions. Before businesses open across the nation and phone calls start coming in, I can plug away for 90 solid minutes on a blog post, article, paper, or letter for a patient. My advice to anyone who works from home is to do the tasks that require big chunks of time when the world is relatively quiet and the rest of the family is asleep or busy with their own things. Additionally, leave emails, social media, and cell phones off or put them away while you work during this time. They’ll be there after you finish up. 

9:00 am Breakfast with an Advanced Multivitamin

As a physician who’s grounded in nutrition, I’ve become dedicated to getting enough macro and micronutrients regularly throughout the day. This keeps my blood sugar stable and my brain fueled for the work I have to do. Years ago, when I ran a nutritional analysis on my diet, I realized I was undereating in the mornings and missing key vitamins and minerals like seleniumcholine, and vitamin E, which are sometimes hard to get through diet. For this reason, I started adding plants and proteins to my breakfast and included a high-tech, specialized multivitamin once a day. I choose quality multivitamins that contain key micronutrients that are hard to get adequate through food, like selenium, for example. 

9:00 am-12:00 pm Client Meetings

I meet with clients virtually from 9:00 am-noon each day. My sessions are about 50 minutes long, and I make sure to stand up, take a walk, or get some squats in between to keep my blood flowing. 

12:00 pm-1:30 pm Nourishing Movement 

Usually by noon I am ready to get up from my desk and move! Most days I choose to run or take a walk outside, then do a few minutes of weight training to keep my bones, muscles, and core strong. A pivotal part of fueling my fitness regimen is the mineral blend that I put in my water. 

I stopped consuming sports drinks years ago after learning that many of them contain flavorings, added sugars, and preservatives which are ultimately unnecessary and unhelpful in a food-as-medicine diet. Instead, I’ll add mineral drops to my water that contain only electrolytes without the additives. Electrolytes are important because they control the electrical activity of our nervous systems and regulate muscular activity. We lose them when we sweat, so it’s important to add them back in when we hydrate to keep things running smoothly.

1:30 pm Lunch and Digestive Enzymes

I eat immediately after my workout to keep my blood sugar stable and to refuel my muscles, which have been depleted of glycogen. Because food is my medicine, I take digestive enzymes with big meals to make sure I’m able to properly digest and absorb the nutrients from the foods I’m eating. 

Enzymes are produced by organs in the digestive tract. They break apart food particles into smaller molecules that can be easily absorbed by our bodies. It’s important to note that it’s only the nutrients that you absorb that count when it comes to nutrition. 

My thought process is that, if you choose to invest your money in quality foods to fuel your body, you should make sure you’re able to actually extract the nutrients from them. Consider an enzyme blend that contains some lipase, amylase, and protease, which help to digest fats, sugars, and proteins, respectively.

2:00 pm-6:00 pm Computer Work and Bacopa

Back to computer work and phone calls again. If I hit an afternoon slump, I’ll do a quick 3-minute meditation to center myself so that I can power through until dinner. I may also take a small dose of bacopa monnieri, a nootropic herb that boosts blood flow to the frontal lobes and has been shown to help with concentration and learning. It always does the trick.

6:00 pm Family Dinner

Eating meals together as a family ensures that we get to see each other no matter how hectic things get. It’s also a good time to slow down and catch up on the important things, which can be helpful after spending all day working at a fast pace. I find that stopping to eat dinner intentionally helps me to start slowing down for the evening. This, in turn, allows me to get better sleep.

6:30 pm-9:00 pm More Work or Family Time

Depending on how busy my week is, I’ll take time off after dinner or hop back on the computer to finish client plans. I make sure to wear my blue light blocker glasses during this time so that the blue lights from my electronics don’t interfere with my sleep. I’ll also play some calming music to help me start to wind down. 

If I can skip the extra work, I’ll invest that time in my relationships with family members—teaching our teen to drive, taking a walk, or playing a board game always fills my cup emotionally.

9:00 pm Gratitude Practice and Magnesium

I take a small dose of the relaxing mineral, magnesium glycinate, at night to help promote restful sleep and to ease any muscle tension that may have built up during the day. Right before bedtime, we’ll meet as a family to say the three things we’re each grateful for that day. Studies show that a regular gratitude practice enhances psychological wellbeing and a person’s overall sense of happiness over time. Because gratitude is free and only has positive side effects, it’s a great way to boost your mood and bring you closer together as a family each day.

My hope is that you can use this routine as a sample to build your own healthy daily work from home schedule. By linking your own routine to your body’s circadian rhythm, nourishing yourself regularly, and moving throughout the day, you’ll optimize your performance and feel better than ever about the work you do.

References:

  1. Kean JD, Downey LA, Stough ..A systematic review of the Ayurvedic medicinal herb Bacopa monnieri in child and adolescent populations. Complementary Therapies in Medicine Volume 29, December 2016, Pages 56-62
  2. Karen O'Leary and Samantha Dockray.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Apr 2015.243-245.http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0119
  3. Tardy AL, Pouteau E, Marquez D, Yilmaz C, Scholey A. Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):228. Published 2020 Jan 16. doi:10.3390/nu12010228
  4. Shechter A, Kim EW, St-Onge MP, Westwood AJ. Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2018;96:196–202. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.015
  5. Choi S, Jung S, Ko KS. Effects of Coffee Extracts with Different Roasting Degrees on Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Systems in Mice. Nutrients. 2018;10(3):363. Published 2018 Mar 16. doi:10.3390/nu10030363
  6. Tsai SY, Jaiswal S, Chang CF, Liang WK, Muggleton NG, Juan CH. Meditation Effects on the Control of Involuntary Contingent Reorienting Revealed With Electroencephalographic and Behavioral Evidence. Front Integr Neurosci. 2018;12:17. Published 2018 May 15. doi:10.3389/fnint.2018.00017

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