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Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.


In Elemental. More on Medium.

It’s time to work less; your life may depend on it

Photo: Marten Bjork/Unsplash

Work too much? Need an excuse to put in fewer hours? Feel free to wave this new study under the nose of your boss: Working too many hours causes physical and mental stress that killed 745,194 people before their time in a single year around the globe, due to heart disease and strokes.

The analysis, the first analysis of its kind, was done by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization and was published May 17 in the journal Environment International. …

Yes, it’s very possible to give yourself too much of a break

Photo: PM Images/Getty Images

Maria wanted to make a budget. The 27-year-old customer experience representative — newly married and normally quite organized — had put herself in charge of the task in the hopes of socking away some extra savings. Then the pandemic hit, and all budgeting bets were off. Instead of wrapping up her remote-work days in front of a new spreadsheet, she’d stretch for an hour of yoga to temper the general overwhelm she felt. “I’d say to myself, ‘This is what you need right now,’” she tells Elemental. Maria said it almost every day.

It was, Maria reasoned, the self-compassionate thing…

Ways for you and your employer to help avoid fresh outbreaks as the economy restarts

Businesspeople wearing masks in the office and sitting at further distances.
Businesspeople wearing masks in the office and sitting at further distances.
Photo: martin-dm/E+/Getty Images

Most people have little control over when or whether they can — or have to — go back to work, as health officials, politicians, and companies make decisions about restarting the economy. But there are several steps many workers can take, particularly office workers, to reduce the risk of infection for themselves and co-workers when they do go back. These measures dovetail with preventive steps bosses and business owners can take in order to avoid fresh outbreaks and keep their workers safe.

Beyond ensuring adequate testing and contact tracing for Covid-19, the most important measure to help prevent the spread…

Illustrations: Alexandre Luu

Here’s why your body hurts and what you can do about it

Back tight? Knees sore? You’re not alone. It’s been just over a month since the first “shelter in place” order was issued in America — nearly one month since many of us were asked to physically isolate our already stressed-out, suboptimally nourished, sleep-deprived bodies to our homes (residences that may or may not be set up for working) — and it’s taking its toll.

“One of the reasons people are starting to feel not great is that their environment isn’t conducive to what their body needs,” says physical therapist Kelly Starrett, DPT, owner and operator of The Ready State Virtual…

Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi argues community health workers are a win-win for fighting Covid-19

A photo of a man sitting in his car wearing a mask waiting to get tested by a health care worker.
A photo of a man sitting in his car wearing a mask waiting to get tested by a health care worker.
A man prepares for a mouth swab at a drive-through coronavirus testing site for residents who have symptoms and an order from a health care provider on Quincy Street in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday, March 19, 2020. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

There are more than 200,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 reported worldwide as of March 19. Continued sharp increases in infections may overwhelm health systems in any country, but especially places that are facing shortages of nurses, doctors, and other frontline health providers. The pandemic is also dealing an economic blow. People across America and around the world are losing their jobs as requirements to cancel large gatherings of people, social distance, or shelter in place make it impossible for many businesses to continue. Earlier this week it was reported that the pandemic could drive up unemployment to 20%, a rate…

Expert advice on staying active, where to sit, and what to snack on when your home becomes your office

Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Follow Elemental’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here.

In light of Covid-19, thousands of people are starting to work from home, and on behalf of freelancers, writers, and programmers everywhere, I would like to say, “Welcome to the couch.”

As a health and science writer, I have been working from home pretty much full time for almost three years. Full disclosure: There are a lot of bad habits you can fall into. And, yes, distractions, endless snacks, and having no technical reason to leave your bed or put on pants can leave you feeling blah mentally and physically. …

My Therapist Says

After getting laid off once again, this was the only advice that penetrated my depression

Illustration: Kezia Gabriella

This story is part of My Therapist Says, a column about advice from therapy that stuck.

When I was laid off for the third time, I allowed the setback to swallow me into a pit of pervasive depression and anxiety. I was having an early thirties existential crisis: Where did I go wrong? How will I fix it? Am I too old to fix it?

And mostly: What will they all think?

Don’t ask me who “they” are. I have no idea. Sometimes I would obsessively scroll through my Instagram followers, pondering how each person would interpret my bad news…

As young employees delay having children, Ping-Pong tables and kombucha have been replaced by coverage for IVF and egg freezing

Illustration: Giacomo Bagnara

Shaliza Kassam probably wouldn’t have frozen her eggs this year if her employer-based health insurance hadn’t covered it.

The Chicago-based 29-year-old knows that becoming a mother is in her plans for the future. But like many other millennials, what she doesn’t know is when or how that’s going to happen — so when Shaliza learned that LinkedIn, her employer of five years, offered generous coverage for egg freezing, she jumped at the opportunity. She was 28 years old at the time.

“I have a lot of friends in their thirties or forties, and they talk a lot about how hard…

It’s one of the best ways to stay functional

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

It’s Tuesday morning. It feels like you’ve dealt with an entire workweek and you’re already drained. You’re on your third coffee which is giving you heart palpitations and by 10 a.m. you feel like crying at your desk. You can’t concentrate on a single thing because you’re distracted by how miserable you feel.

Sound familiar? You’re not sick, but you need a day off.

Regardless if someone has a mental health condition or not, everyone deserves mental health days to take time to relax and recharge. While allotted mental health days aren’t universally offered, society is making strides, at least…

The Nuance

Scientists untangle the relationship between effort and emotional payoff

Credit: simonkr/Getty Images

In his 2004 book Authentic Happiness, the University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman tells the story of a lizard that won’t eat.

The lizard belonged to one of Seligman’s colleagues. No matter what it was offered — fruit, ground pork, dead flies — the lizard refused to eat. But then one day its owner tossed a newspaper down on top of a ham sandwich. The lizard pounced on the newspaper, shredded it to pieces, and devoured the sandwich beneath it.

“Lizards have evolved to stalk and pounce and shred before they eat,” Seligman writes in his book. “So essential was…


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