What You Need to Know About Inflammation

What is Inflammation?

Ever had a bug bite? A twisted ankle? Then you already know what inflammation feels like. The pain, heat, redness, and swelling are the classic signs that inflammation is happening. Under the surface, your body is ramping up its immune response and releasing a whole menagerie of cells and cell signals.

Whether it’s the surface of your skin, the gut, or blood vessels, whenever cells get damaged they send out a distress call. The first responders on-site are usually the neutrophils, immune cells that clean up debris, dead tissue, and microbes from whatever triggered the damage. The second line of immune cells, the macrophages, and phagocytes, then arrive to catch anything else that escaped the first wave. Blood vessels will dilate to speed up the process, bringing more fluids to the area and with it the redness, heat, swelling, and pain that is so common with inflammation. If all goes well, the trigger is dealt with and the acute inflammation response shuts down. The real damage occurs when the body can’t shut it down, leading to chronic inflammation.

What Causes It?

Our body is pretty much always dealing with acute inflammation as we stumble through the world and deal with everyday issues like sick coworkers or pulling a muscle at the gym. Chronic inflammation is a bit more insidious, simmering below the surface until it becomes problematic. Triggers of chronic inflammation can include stress, external pathogens (e.g., Lyme, Candida) that the body can’t remove, an autoimmune response due to a food sensitivity in which the body gets confused and starts attacking its own tissue or when areas of the body (e.g., arteries, gut lining) can’t fully repair due to damage. This last cause of chronic inflammation one is why so many have sworn off gluten to ease bloating, sluggishness, and stomach pain. 

How Can I Tell if I Have Inflammation?

While the acute response may have the whole red, heat, and swelling thing going on, chronic inflammation can be a bit harder to pinpoint. Often the inflammatory markers that are overloading and attacking the body lead to pain, fatigue, and lack of focus. For example, many who are affected by fibromyalgia (thought to be caused by inflammation in the brain) also experience “fibro fog,” which can cause headaches and a feeling of mental slowness. Skin rashes and outbreaks are fairly common with inflammation and often linked to poor digestion and absorption of nutrients. Not to mention that the hyper response of the immune cells can also lead to anxiety and insomnia, making you feel worse. It is also thought that stress can trigger an inflammatory response in the body, which can in turn heighten the effect each of the signs of inflammation we just outlined. 

The key is to support the body’s acute inflammatory response, which is ultimately healing, and prevent the chronic response from getting out of control by making smart lifestyle choices. 

What Can You Do About It?

Research shows that the best approach for dealing with chronic inflammation includes lifestyle, dietary and supplement strategies. Eliminating common inflammatory foods like dairy and gluten is a great place to start (though you should always consult with your doctor before doing so). If that doesn’t seem to help, add soy, corn, and eggs to the list (again, talk to your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes). At the same time, you can increase anti-inflammatory foods like berries, green leafy veggies such as kale and spinach, and healthy Omega 3-rich fats like fish, nuts, olive oil, and avocado. Decreasing stress and adding regular movement (e.g. yoga, walking) into your day certainly won’t hurt either.

Throwing supplements into the mix is also key. Prevention is the name of the game. Regular use of CBD has been shown to be supportive when taken internally daily, as well as supporting your body when used topically. 

So whether you choose to take a daily CBD capsule, oil,  or topically prevent acute flare-ups, do yourself a favor and stay ahead of the inflammation game.



How to Maintain Focus During Endless Virtual Meetings (and while WFH)

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many of us to working from home. At first, virtual meetings can be exciting and liberating (who doesn’t like not having to dress for work!?), but if you’re anything like us, the novelty has definitely worn off. There’s the challenge of setting a background, finding a flattering angle, and making sure you’ve located the mute button, let alone actively listening and contributing to the discussion at hand. If you’re one of the 50% of employees globally who regularly works outside the office for 2.5 or more days a week, video conferencing is not just the new normal, it’s often mundane. If you find that your focus and productivity often suffers, reboot your enthusiasm with these simple techniques. 

Why Working from Home is Different

The average employee spends 13 days a year in meetings. That’s almost two weeks of ‘Flagging up’, ‘Circling back’, and ‘Thinking outside the box’. Not surprisingly, enthusiasm and passion can wane. In fact, a study in the Harvard Business Review found that 71% of managers view meetings as unproductive. Having to work online from home rather than in the workplace, makes the relentless onslaught of meetings even more exhausting. The lack of structure at home – the change in dress code, rituals, and formalities – also takes some adjustment. Without that break between work and home, stress can even accumulate to the point where insomnia becomes an issue and impacts focus. 

How to Stay Focused While Working 

  1. Create an Office Environment – Many experienced mobile workers reclaim their schedule by ‘suiting up’ at home and dedicating a fixed area as their home office. Keep things tight and focused by sticking to a schedule, choosing a routine, and checking off tasks as they’re completed. The Pomodoro technique is a great way to boost productivity by breaking down work into 25-minute bursts (which is also great for parents who are juggling work, school, and entertaining the kids). 
  2. Beat the Afternoon Slump – The post-lunch or mid-afternoon slump that strikes in your workplace can hit especially hard while you’re working from home. If you’re working on the couch or sitting up in bed, your body is particularly primed for an unexpected nap. Stay alert with a round of stretches or yoga to keep you feeling revitalized, boosting your endocannabinoid system in the process. Rather than reaching for another coffee, you can stay alert and productive with a Focus Shot, which gives you a focus boost and helps you feel productive for hours without any jitters or side effects.
  3. Minimize Distractions – It might feel that joining a scheduled video call interrupts your flow, but it’s important to be fully present during conversations. That means using active listening to focus on clear, useful goals, and allowing each person time to finish speaking without interruption. It’s also a good idea to put away your smartphone, close down any open tabs, and switch off notifications because these are all potential distractions. When it comes to refreshments, think about what you would do in the office. Bringing a cup of coffee or a cookie to a virtual meeting shouldn’t be too distracting but showing up for a call with a bowl of hot wings might be taking the “work from home” approach a little too far. 
  4. Set an Agenda and Time Limit – If you’re the host of the meeting, help everyone maintain a sense of focus by limiting meeting participants where possible so that everyone can be actively involved. Set an agenda and a time limit so that each participant feels a sense of accomplishment as the meeting progresses. It can also help to open up the chat function of your virtual meeting platform to allow people to chime in with thoughts and questions that can be circled back without interrupting the flow of the conversation.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has focused the spotlight on working from home, but virtual conferencing is likely to be a permanent solution in the future as jobs become more mobile. The trick is to make working from home work for you, and that means staying productive. Try these simple tips and you could be the star of your next video call.

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