Many people have suddenly found themselves working remotely, trying to do their part to “Flatten the curve” and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare system.
This new work environment has presented many more challenges than most had anticipated, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
The aftershocks that are coming from being thrust into an incompatible work set up combined with the additional assaults to our mental, emotional and physical well being are going to adversely affect our health and immune system.(…I will cover more on this in another post…)
The reality of working at home brings up challenges of childcare, interrupted concentration, battling over the internet, distractions, and one of our biggest concerns is your makeshift workstation.
Most of us just don’t have a good working environment at home.
The best we can do is find a desk that is covered in bills, sharing table top real estate with your partner and kids, you may be forced to use that spare hard dining room chair all hunched over like a dinosaur or even end up slumped on the couch.
These situations and set-ups are terrible for our bodies and mental focus and it is only a matter of time until they make themselves known as a back spasm, limping walk or inability to reach overhead.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make your home office healthier and more productive.
1. Consider Standing To Work
It has been amazing to see over the past decade a shift of employers supporting the implementation of standing workstations, ergonomic assessment, stretch breaks and even regular scheduled chair massage. After numerous studies have shown that sitting all day is one of the main contributors to early death, not to mention the cost of workers compensation and lost revenue due to poor productivity. Additionally, many people find that they can concentrate better while standing.
But how can you do this at home?
Whether you have a desk or counter top to work at, place a smaller table or large box on top of your existing desk to raise your work to standing height. Make certain that your line of sight is at the screen and you are not having to lean forward, look down or up. If you aren’t used to standing for extending periods you may want to increase the standing time slowly for your body to adjust. I also recommend getting a standing mat to take some of the impact of standing off your joints and spine, a chef’s or kitchen mats work well.
2. Clear the Clutter
The home office or desk often seems to be a storage location for everything that can wait until another day, bills, junk mail, restaurants vouchers, books, dog treat…you name it. This not only makes it hard to find what you are looking for, but working in all that clutter is distracting.
Clear off your desk, or whatever area you have set up to claim as a work zone, this will help you get the physical and mental space you need to be your best. Make it your own, a simple plant, picture or flower can go a long way to brighten your day, I know it does mine.
3. Check Your Lighting
Lightning within the home is often chosen for comfort and attractiveness versus functionality. Dim lighting can make you feel lethargic and less productive, additionally it can cause strain on your eyes that can result in headaches or cause you to change your posture to try to accommodate for the poor line of sight.
Try to let in some natural light from outside and get a desk lamp that can provide the light to let you clearly and comfortably see the task at hand.
4. Find A Better Chair
If you are not used to working from home, you most likely don’t have a high quality office chair. This is another great reason to get up and stand, or walk when you need to take a call.
If available try to find a chair in your home that allows you to place your feet flat on the floor, can provide good support across your back and has a firm supportive sitting surface. I have had to help people that were in the habit of tucking their legs under them to gain some height and after years did serious damage to their knees and spine. Like I said we only “get away” with our poor patterns and habits for a season of time, then they come to the surface, with a vengeance and lay us out.
You may need to try a small pillow or a small step stool or book to put under your feet. Also, make sure that if your chair has armrests that they are not forcing you to shrug your shoulders up to your ears or round your body forward. If you want to invest in a good office chair I recommend Herman Miller, my clients love them and they are made in the USA. 😉
5. Minimize Noise
Sound can really affect you. Although right now you may not be able to control the noise for kids, a partner on a conference call, you can control your environment and choices.
Try earplugs to help minimize outside noise and distractions. You may prefer to try headphones and listen to calm music while you work, avoid music with distracting or negative lyrics. It is often hard to “hear yourself think” while listening to music and it isn’t the most effective way to work.
6. Move Often
It is absolutely critical to get up!
Try not to stay in one position for too long, this is especially important when your work set up is less than ideal. Setting an alarm on your phone to get up and move around every hour at least.
I also tell my clients that each time they get up for a bathroom break or drink of water, do some simple squats to help get your circulation going and re-invigorate their bodies and mind, and to pick a stretch to release any tension that may be building. Your body will thank you for it! My dog finds it especially entertaining when it’s plank or lunge time and I don’t mind if he joins in, it always brings a good laugh and the reset I needed.
7. Release and Stretch at Your Desk
Sitting for most of the day causes the tightening and shortening of muscles and compression of nerves, joints and the spine. There are some simple desk stretches you can do to release the tension and soreness that builds in the neck and back.
Our clients just love the self massage moves we teach them simply by using a lacrosse ball. They initially look at me puzzled when I tell them the lacrosse ball will “be their new best friend.” And after we have shown them how to release their “problem muscles” like the neck, chest, back, hip flexors and glutes they start to keep one handy in their car, gym bag and at work. The only problem is keeping them away from the kids, pets or their spouse. Let us know if you want our Massage Series of videos for Perfect Posture. Click here to contact us if you are interested.
I hope you found some of these tips helpful and they are making you re-evaluate your current situation and what you may feel like if you don’t fix your present set up…
We would be happy to help you stay healthy, productive and moving better so you can keep active and don’t get injured during this time of hunkering down at home.
We are continuing to offer our VIRTUAL wellness and fitness services and Specialty Pilates Classes, so you can get the help you need to get a pulse on your desk set-up and if your new “routines” may be overstressing your body, all done in the comfort of your own home and on your schedule.
You are already meeting with your team, boss and friends virtually why not get help from a Movement Specialist? (It is as simple as clicking a mouse…if you can do that you are one step closer to being pain-free, more mobile and active, just how you want).
There is a lot we can help with whether that is assessing your current work station set up, helping you with an exercise program, to talk about your current fitness, or to make sure you are not ignoring an ache or pain that can be easily fixed now and most certainly will become a larger issue and take longer to fix later. (Just think of the limited access to health professionals now and what will happen once their doors open again? The waiting list will seem like eternity, and will only compound your current situation…wouldn’t you rather solve your problem now and breathe and live more easily?).
You may be surprised by how much a Movement Specialist can help you through this challenging time. Click the inquiry button below to request a call to see if a VIRTUAL Session would be right for you.
Additionally, we also offer VIRTUAL Free 30 min Discovery Session Consultations, there are only 3 available sessions per week. Contact us today to talk to a Specialist face to face (online ;), just click the link below and fill out the quick and easy form so we can learn more about you, how you would like to be helped and if you qualify for the free session.
Stay safe, healthy and positive.
Just remember there is always help in time of need, and we are here for you.
…(more on the Disasters of DIY Overload, The Netflix Syndrome and Weekend Warrior Woes in coming articles)…
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