POWERING DOWN & RECHARGING | Wellness in the Kitchen

By Chef Network Team posted 13-07-2018 11:29


Chef Network is working on a range of initiatives that address ways that we can improve our industry. One area we are looking at is improving the health and wellness of chefs and later this year we will run a series of practical workshops on this topic. In the run-up, Wellness Coach Maria Caldwell will share a series of short blog posts with practical tips on dealing with stress and improving health & wellness.

Please do share your own thoughts, tips and feedback in our Health & Wellness discussion thread


Most of us – myself included – rely nowadays on our mobile phone for pretty much everything – from chatting with your friends and family; telling the time, reading the news headlines; watching your favourite TV show, for work calls and emails; for travel; for making payments; taking photos, making videos, playing games; and that’s before all the social media apps we are familiar with! Everything is now, quite literally, in the palm of our hand.

In many ways, it’s made our lives so easier – but in other ways, we have allowed ourselves to be owned by this piece of technology.


Recent research from the UK1 shows that the time spent daily on mobile phones has increased from just over half an hour in 2012, to over 2 hours daily in 2018. That may not seem like a lot, but over the course of a year - that amounts to almost 1 month!  Some more recent US research2 suggests this figure is as high as 4 hours daily! In Ireland – we check our phones on average 57 times per day, and 40pc of Irish people look at their smartphones within five minutes of waking, and three quarters do so within half an hour3.


So what does this have to do with wellbeing and wellness?

Well, for a start, reliance on smartphones has contributed to the “always-on” culture that’s a driver behind so much stress and anxiety – particularly within the work environment. For those of us who use and rely on our phones for work, its especially important to consider the ways and times in which we can look to reduce our screen time.

When we look at our phones within minutes of waking – messages, emails news headlines - we are sending our bodies straight away into the reactionary “fight or flight” mode – before we even get up!

And we don’t need the numerous published studies to tell us that high social media usage is linked to depression, anxiety and feelings of personal dis-satisfaction; not to mention the time we waste looking down, mindlessly scrolling; even when we are in the company of friends and family.


As well as vision fatigue, and headaches - “tech neck” is a real condition resulting from the typical head forward, a slouched position we employ when looking at our screens.  In this posture, the head is not supported over the body and unwanted pressure is put on the joints, discs and muscles in the neck and back. Tilting the head forward 60 degrees places up to 60lbs of force onto the neck. Do this 57 times per day, for 2 hours or more - and it's easy to see how this can negatively impact your physical health. Untreated, tech neck can cause a variety of problems like headaches, pinched nerves, muscular deformation, and disc degeneration.

Smartphones and most modern screens emit blue light. Exposure to blue light disrupts the body’s ability to produce melatonin, an essential hormone that gives your body signals that it’s “time to sleep”. Looking at screens close to bedtime diminishes sleep quality which over time can contribute to fatigue, brain fog, increased stress and anxiety.


The D-Diet – tips to reduce screen time, and get back me-time

The word “diet” I’m sure is enough to make most chefs and kitchen professionals give a disdainful eye-roll on move on. But this diet is one that gives us back something – more time, less stress, better sleep.

Like any diet – these tips below are just a series of small steps to help YOU power down and switch off – and improve your wellbeing.


  • One of the easiest things we can do is to switch off email and social media notifications – if you don’t hear the “ping” or see the flashing light or the little red bubble - you are immediately freeing yourself from having to *react* ; and taking control of when you wang to read messages.
  • If you have the setting, switch to night time mode to reduce blue light emission. You can invest in blue light blocking glasses – I found a cheap pair on Amazon some months back for around £10
  • Try switching off your phone 90 minutes to an hour before your bed-time. This allows you to have a more relaxed wind down before bed and can help you sleep better. In the morning – try to wait at least 30 minutes before switching it on.
  • If you use your phone as your wake-up alarm, consider buying an old-school alarm clock, and switch off your phone. Ideally, keep your phone out of the bedroom
  • Use Airplane mode during the day when you need to focus on other tasks, or when you simply want me time and don’t want to be disturbed. Remember – that it's PERFECTLY OK to want to have personal time.
  • Try to not have phones out during meal times – at home and when eating out. Take the obligatory food photo for the ‘Gram, and then put it away, and savour the food and company instead.


As part of the Wellness Workshops later this year, we’ll talk more about why being more savvy about our screen time is essential to health & wellness. I look forward to sharing it with you in person!

(Smartphone addiction is like any other addiction. If you feel that you, or someone you know, is experiencing over dependency please seek help from a qualified medical health care professional)


1 http://res.cloudinary.com/yumyoshojin/image/upload/v1/pdf/mobile-business-2017.pdf

2 https://hackernoon.com/how-much-time-do-people-spend-on-their-mobile-phones-in-2017-e5f90a0b10a6

3 https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/smartphone-addiction-irish-people-check-their-phones-57-times-a-day-36380281.html


About the Author:
Maria Caldwell, Green Wave Wellness

Maria Caldwell is a yoga teacher with almost 15 years experience teaching public, corporate and one-to-one classes. Her classes incorporate a mix of movement, breathwork and meditation. She teaches dynamic yoga, restorative yoga, yoga for sports, and practical mindfulness. 
In 2015 she qualified as Health Coach - certified by the American Council on Exercise, where she is currently studying a specialism in Nutrition for Fitness. She has a 360 approach to wellbeing - movement, nutrition, mindset and rest. 
In addition to yoga, she likes to surf, hike, lift heavy weights and cook!

Find her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Greenwave Wellness - Chef Network


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