An Owaves "O," with the eight activity icons--Love, Move, Work, Eat, Sleep, Relax, Play, and Flow--along the rim, and the author Serene's Bitmoji dancing in the center.

The Science of Our Symbols: Owaves’ Eight Activity Icons

Serene Issa day planning, Healthy Lifestyle, Owaves101, Time Blocking

Owaves recommends that each individual separates their time each day among eight different activity categories, represented by individual icons. Each category holds a purpose and furthers each person’s mental and physical well-being. The activity icons or categories are as follows: Love, Move, Work, Eat, Sleep, Relax, Play and Flow. In the Owaves app, each activity category is paired with a recommended amount of time to allot to it. Additionally, each activity category is paired with an article that provides reasoning for the importance of holding space in your day for each category. 

LOVE Recommendation: 1 hour daily with your loved ones 

A study done by Dr. Alan Teo, assistant professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, and his colleagues explores the benefits of socializing. Teo and colleagues found that there are “unsurpassed mental health benefits of regular face-to-face social interactions among older adults.” Based on this study, Owaves emphasizes the importance of spending at least 1 hour with your loved ones each day.  

It was proven that “participants who regularly met in person with family and friends were less likely to report symptoms of depression, compared with participants who emailed or spoke on the phone.” Unfortunately, meeting in person used to be something that was far more doable pre-Covid. During the current times, having regular face-to-face contact with loved ones is far more difficult. However, “research has long supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health” – and with advanced technology, we are able to have more virtual face-to-face interactions that can still help us feel connected to our loved ones. 

Anita Myers, an emotional intelligence coach and trainer, specifies that particularly during this unprecedented time, we need extra support from others. Myers explicates that “working through this process [of dealing with the pandemic] together can lend itself to a bonding experience, filled with compassion, empathy and kindness.”  Reaching out to our loved ones, in a safe manner, will ultimately help us move through this challenging time. Also, it will allow us to feel closer to those whom we care deeply for.  

A black-and-white "O" or 24-hour day plan highlighting the activity "Love" in red and featuring this text: "Owaves makes it easy to plan 60 minutes of love into your day!"

MOVE Recommendation: 30-60 minutes of movement daily 

The American Heart Association offers different exercise recommendations for adults, teens and kids. These recommendations stem from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The AHA notes the following: “Being more active can help all people think, feel and sleep better and perform daily tasks more easily. And if you’re sedentary, sitting less is a great place to start.” 

For adults, the AHA suggests 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. Furthermore, the AHA recommends sitting less overall during the day and the week. This has been more difficult for many people to achieve during the pandemic. However, even a few minutes of getting off your desk chair to stretch or take a walk is beneficial. The AHA’s advice for children ages 3-5 years old is to be overall physically active and to regularly move their bodies throughout the day. Furthermore, kids from 6-17 should perform at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. 

Some examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities are taking a brisk walk, dancing or biking, while examples of vigorous intensity activities include hiking uphill, running or jump roping. The AHA notes that there are many benefits to moving your body on a frequent basis. These include getting better sleep, improving insomnia and sleep apnea, improving memory and attention, achieving better bone health, and experiencing fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Based on the above recommendations, Owaves recommends that adults exercise for 30 minutes daily and teens exercise for 60 minutes daily. 

A black-and-white "O" or 24-hour day plan highlighting the activity "Move" in orange and featuring this text: "Owaves makes it easy to plan 30-60 minutes of movement into your day!"

WORK Recommendation: 2 hours of deep work daily 

Cal Newport, computer science professor at Georgetown University, writes about the intersection of digital technology and culture. He is the author of six books, including, most recently, the New York Times bestseller Digital Minimalism. He also composed The Time-Block Planner. Newport’s hypothesis is called “The Deep Work Hypothesis.” This, as he describes, is “the ability to concentrate without distraction on a demanding task.” This is a difficult skill to master, but with practice and limitation of distractions, it is possible.

By using the Owaves app, you can set aside time throughout your day specifically for deep work tasks. Owaves recommends individuals engage in 2 hours of deep, distraction-free work every day.   

A black-and-white "O" or 24-hour day plan highlighting the activity "Work" in yellow and featuring this text: "Owaves makes it easy to plan 2 hours of deep work into your day!"

EAT Recommendation: Regular meal times, keeping in mind the 8-12 hour eating window 

Dr. Monique Tello, practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, advocates for intermittent fasting. Tello explains that “we have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as diabetes.” 

Researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared two forms of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day (7 am to 3 pm), or spread out over 12 hours (between 7 am and 7 pm). Both groups maintained their weight, but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. 

Based on the above research, Owaves suggests eating at regular meal times and keeping in mind the 8-12 hour sunrise-to-sunset eating window each day, for improved health. As Dr. Deborah Wexler, associate professor at Harvard Medical School, suggests, above all, individuals should “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them,” which would ultimately be the healthiest method to pursue. It can be difficult to remember to have meals throughout the day with your mind focused on other tasks. This is why it’s important to put aside time frames during the day to have these meals. The Owaves app can help you do this! 

A black-and-white "O" or 24-hour day plan highlighting the activity "Eat" in green and featuring this text: "Owaves makes it easy to schedule regular meals into your day!"

SLEEP Recommendation: 7-9 hours for adults each night, and 8-10 hours for teens 

The National Sleep Foundation issues recommendations for appropriate sleep durations for each age group: 

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range of 14-17 hours each day
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range of 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range of 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range of 10-13 hours 
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range of 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range of 8-10 hours 
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range of 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range of 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range of 7-8 hours

Taking the above recommendations into account, Owaves recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults and 8-10 per night for teens. It’s easy to get caught up with the day’s stress, work, screen time, or even social life and not sleep at an appropriate time for your needs. However, with knowing ahead of time what your targeted sleep duration and bedtime should be, the less likely you are to stay up longer than desired. 

A black-and-white "O" or 24-hour day plan highlighting the activity "Sleep" in dark blue and featuring this text: "Owaves makes it easy to plan 7-9 hours of sleep into your day!"

RELAX Recommendation: 45 minutes of relaxation daily 

Sioux Center Health directly claims that relaxation is an important part of everyday life, and it is actually proven to be beneficial to an individual to take breaks. The Center notes that many people see leisure time as something to move aside in exchange for productive time, but “relaxation should be a part of a holistic approach to wellness.” According to Sioux Center Health, “When you make time for yourself, you hit the reset button and allow your body to come into balance. If you’re working to maintain or improve your health, don’t neglect the power of relaxation.” Specifically, Sioux Center Health states that relaxation can do the following: lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, calm the mind, improve digestion and relieve aches and pains.

Therefore, Owaves advocates for incorporating at least 45 minutes of relaxation into your day. Include relaxation and the other activity icons in your “O” or day plan each day to improve the quality of your life!

A black-and-white "O" or 24-hour day plan highlighting the activity "Relax" in light blue and featuring this text: "Owaves makes it easy to schedule 45 minutes of relaxation into your day!"

PLAY Recommendation: 30 minutes of play daily 

Luminis Health discusses the importance of play in adults. First, play “[is] good for your stress levels.” It “can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. These [endorphins] promote an overall sense of well- being and can temporarily relieve pain.” Play also “improves your brain function,” particularly when you take part in games that challenge the brain. This in turn may help prevent memory problems. Additionally, play “stimulates your mind and boosts [mental] activity, and it makes you more productive.” Finally, it “improves your relationships” with others, since “laughing and having fun with others can foster empathy, compassion, trust and intimacy” between individuals.

Owaves recommends including 30 minutes of play in your day plan to achieve the above health benefits! Remember that play can be just as important as the other activity icons.

A black-and-white "O" or 24-hour day plan highlighting the activity "Play" in purple and featuring this text: "Owaves makes it easy to schedule 30 minutes of play into your day!"

FLOW Recommendation: 1 hour of free time daily 

In psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s TED Talk, “Flow, the secret to happiness,” he discusses his personal experience understanding the importance of practicing flow in his daily life. Csikszentmihaly states, “To start those studies [on what fosters happiness] about 40 years ago, I began to look at creative people — first artists and scientists, and so forth — trying to understand what made them feel that it was worth essentially spending their life doing things for which many of them didn’t expect either fame or fortune, but which made their life meaningful and worth doing.” 

He discovered that “when you are really involved in this completely engaging process of creating something new, as this man [practicing flow] is, he doesn’t have enough attention left over to monitor how his body feels, or his problems at home. He can’t even feel that he’s hungry or tired. His body disappears, his identity disappears from his consciousness, because he doesn’t have enough attention, like none of us do, to really do well something that requires a lot of concentration, and at the same time to feel that he exists.” 

This automatic process of flow needs to be practiced in order to become something that individuals are able to execute on demand. Therefore, in addition to making time for the seven other activity icons, it is important to completely and regularly immerse yourself in enjoyable activities, in order to achieve flow! These activities can differ depending on who you are as a person and what interests you have. Owaves recommends dedicating 1 hour to flow every day.

A black-and-white "O" or 24-hour day plan highlighting the activity "Flow" in pink and featuring this text: "Owaves makes it easy to schedule 60 minutes of flow into your day!"

Owaves’ Activity Icons: A great way to balance your life!

Each of these eight activity icons or categories are of immense importance in one’s daily life, and they can significantly enhance your quality of life! Designate specific blocks of time for these activity icons in your day plan in the Owaves app, based on the above recommendations, and move forward toward a more balanced lifestyle! 

References

American Heart Association. (2018, April 18). American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults and kids. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2004, February). Flow, the secret to happiness [Video]. TED Conferences. https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_flow_the_secret_to_happiness

Issa, S. (2021, March 9). The science of our symbols: Owaves’ eight activity icons. Owaves. https://owaves.com/science-of-our-symbols-owaves-activity-categories/

Morales, N. (n.d.). Covid-19 response opens door to more time with loved ones. Community Health Magazine. https://www.communityhealthmagazine.com/coronavirus/covid-19-response-opens-door-to-more-time-with-loved-ones/article_8aa8987a-75a2-5b26-80b6-08263862d1a4.html

National Sleep Foundation. (2015, February 2). National Sleep Foundation recommends new sleep times [Press release]. OneCare Media. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times

Newport, Cal. (n.d.). About Cal Newport. https://www.calnewport.com/about/

Oregon Health & Science University. (2015, October 4). Research: Face-to-face socializing more powerful than phone calls, emails in guarding against depression in older adults. OHSU. https://news.ohsu.edu/2015/10/05/research:-face-to-face-socializing-more-powerful-than-phone-calls-emails-in-guarding-against-depression-in-older-adults

Sakraida, M. (2019, May 27). The benefits of play for adults. The Beacon by Luminis Health. https://living.aahs.org/behavioral-health/the-benefits-of-play-for-adults/

Sioux Center Health. (2019, July 3). The importance of taking time to relax. https://www.siouxcenterhealth.org/latest-news-and-blog/the-importance-of-taking-time-to-relax/

Tello, M. (2018, June 29). Intermittent fasting: Surprising update. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156

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