Health, Self-care

Air Purifiers for Coping with Smoke

Smoke from Canadian wildfires

I’ve been having a rough time with the wildfire smoke the last couple weeks. Not full-on asthma attack bad, but definitely feeling tight in my chest, like I can’t get a full breath.

Indoor air purifiers help a lot. My criteria for a filter include:

  • Needs to work well against smoke. Key words to look for: Filters particles smaller than 2.5 microns; MERV 13 (for furnace filters); and a high CADR rating for smoke. (Conveniently, this will also filter for viruses, as well.)
  • It should not produce ozone – so no ionizers, no “electronic air cleaners.”
  • It has to be QUIET, and it has to filter well when it’s on its quietest setting. When you see performance data, that assumes it’s on high. I have bat-like hearing, so the absolute loudness (decibels) and the pitch of the noise are very important to me. I’ve found 17 decibels is great; 23 is OK; and anything 40+ is hard to listen to for long. YMMV.
  • I prefer things with fewer electronics, bells, and whistles that draw as little as electricity as possible.
  • Filters should be affordable.

Here’s what I’ve found works for me (and no, I don’t profit from these links and I wasn’t bribed to say nice things about these):

  • Blueair Pure Series
    • Model 411 (discontinued) and 511, for small rooms like bedrooms and home office. On low, I can barely tell it’s on. On high, it will reduce the PM2.5 in my office from 25 to 10 in about 15 minutes. Consumer Reports said these are one of the only filters that do anything meaningful at low speed.
    • Model 211+ (discontinued, but available on eBay – be sure it’s the 211+ or 211+Auto and not the plain 211). This is essentially the same as the 411, but for bigger rooms. It’s kind of large, but it can reduce the PM2.5 from 80 (unhealthy) to 20 (moderate) in a 12×15 room in about 15 minutes.
    • Model 211i Max (new) – I’ve ordered this one, but haven’t received it yet. Basically, it’s the 211+ with some additional features, like a built-in PM2.5 sensor and phone app support. It’ll turn itself on when the air quality gets low and turn down or off when it gets better.
    • There’s also a 311 auto that’s still in production that is larger than the 411 but smaller than the 211.
  • A standalone air quality monitor is super helpful.
    • Look for one that measures PM2.5 – smoke particles fall into this category.
    • Note that the scale used for PM2.5 is different than the Air Quality Index (AQI) number you see reported on the weather. It’s nice if your monitor has both.
AQI values vs PM2.5 values (in micrograms per cubic meter). They’ve recently adjusted what counts as “unhealthy” levels of PM2.5, so refer to the right-most column.

A couple key points:

  • I’d rather buy a larger purifier and run it on low than buy a smaller purifier and run it on high.
  • Check eBay for used purifiers. Watch the shipping prices, and expect you’ll need to buy a new filter from the manufacturer right away. I wouldn’t buy filters off eBay, though; it’s very little savings and there’s no way to know for sure the filters are unused and not knockoffs.
  • You can’t cheat physics. Buying a purifier that’s too small for your space will help some, but it’s not going to have the power to do the job when the smoke gets into the “unhealthy” range.
  • Focus on really, really cleaning the air in one or two rooms. Keep the door closed and crank it up. If noise is an issue, turn it up when you leave the room and down when you come back.
  • These Blue models draw tiny bits of electricity – the 411 draws 2 watts on low – so just let them run all the time instead of trying to save electricity or filters by turning them off and on multiple times a day.

I’ll post later about some herbs that have also helped me during this time.

Adrenal fatigue, Courses, COVID-19, Health, Long Covid, Recovery, Self-care

Help! I’m a “do-er” and I don’t know how to “do” rest!

I’m guessing a lot of folks out there are having a hard time recuperating from COVID, chronic stress, burnout, and the accumulated fatigue of years of coping through a pandemic. Maybe you feel like you’ve been resting a lot, but you don’t seem to be able to recover that last bit of your energy from the “before times.” Or maybe you were already burned out then!

I’ve just released my new course Self-Care for Restoration, where I teach concrete techniques for moving from total rest into active recovery without falling into a cycle of overdoing-and-crashing. Here’s a sample video, aimed right at all you go-getters who are at a loss when people tell you to “slow down” and “just rest”!

Launch special – I’m offering the course as a name-your-price offering starting at just $5.

Anxiety relief, Relaxation, Self-care

Improving Anxiety Via Somatics

“Somatics” refers to any physical practice that uses motion to improve physical and mental health. How does that work? Well – have you ever found that stress or anxiety can make your muscles feel tight? Does your throat close up when you are upset? Do you want to curl into a ball and hide under the covers when you are procrastinating? Those are all signs of your mental state influencing your physical state.

But it’s also possible to change your physical state to improve your mental state! Watch the video below to learn how moving your body can decrease feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you’re interested in some specific ways you can replace the Anxiety Cycle with the Somatic cycle, join my self-paced Somatics for Anxiety course, available online now!

Anxiety relief, Relaxation, Self-care, Yoga

Somatics for Anxiety course is live!

I’m so excited to announce that my first online course is ready!

Torso-expanding side bend

Somatics for Anxiety isn’t just for people with anxiety. It’s for anyone who is curious to learn about the way moving your body can enhance your mood. We’re heading into a fun – but often high-stress – time of year. Our heads are full of changes to our normal routines, and our hearts are full of emotions: not just excitement and joy, but often angst and even grief.

When all that feels overwhelming, it can be helpful to tune into what the body is doing. And in fact, moving your body in certain ways can have a direct impact on your thoughts and emotions. Not sure where to start? This course is designed as a guided exploration! In each of the four lessons, I’ll introduce you to a different approach to using your body to enhance your mood, including:

  • Breath and movement (you can do it in bed!)
  • Gentle gliding yoga (including a variation in a chair)
  • Flowing chi exercises (simple standing motions)
  • Immersive distraction activities (many options for using your body to reset your mental state)

I’ll walk you through the exercises, talk a bit about the theory behind each one, and invite you to observe the degree to which each approach helps you. By the end of the course, you should have a much clearer idea of the types of activities that help your state of mind. You can revisit the course for an entire year, too, so you can continue to follow along with the videos whenever you need them.