By Patrick Adams
A desk job is mostly connected to a sedentary way of life, which is infamous for leading to many health issues over a longer period. You are usually forced to sit around 8 hours every day at your desk, and that’s when you’re not sitting at a stressful meeting. In time, you’ll notice that the inertia that comes hand in hand with this type of work is what hugely affects your physical, as well as mental health.
Your wellness is crucial if you want to stay healthy and productive. Your job should not take the best of you in the sense that you stop paying attention to your needs and focus solely on your job. To prevent it from happening, you should get yourself informed on the following tips that will ease the negative effects of your desk job and help you stay well, emotionally and physically.
1. Preventing lower back pain
Lower back pain is the most common problem related to a desk job. Maybe you occasionally feel a twinge or it’s an ever-present ache but you need to do something about it.
First, you need to know how to quickly relieve tension when you feel it. Rock your pelvis back and forth while you’re sitting. At the same time, round your back and tilt the hips up, and then tilt them back, which will relieve the muscle tension.
In the long run, you should have quality support. If there’s a gap between any part of your back and the back of the chair, cushion it with a lumbar pillow. Your feet should be resting on the floor, while your thighs should be parallel to the ground. A footstool can also ease the feeling of discomfort.
2. Ease the wrist strain
Spending days typing on your keyboard and sending emails will put an enormous effort on your wrist. It’s not just the matter of overusing your wrist; it’s also about positioning it wrong. The tendons in your wrist go back and forth every time you use a mouse or type on the keyboard. As the tendons are parallel to each other, they cause friction when moving, creating a microtrauma. As you repeat this motion too many times and for too long, it can lead to fatigue or inflammation of the tendons.
An issue that’s less obvious here is your posture, in particular, your shoulders. You shouldn’t hunch them forward because it leads to decreased blood flow, which could cause soreness, numbness or tingling sensations in your hands.
A quick fix when your wrist is sore is so-called Buddha stretch – place your fingers and palms together with your hands. Put them in front of your chest, with your fingers pointed upward. Keep your palms together and move your elbows out, then slowly lower your hands until you feel your wrists stretch. Hold them in that position for 5 seconds.
The long-term solution would be to have a wrist rest for the keyboard and the mouse. Also, keep the blood flowing and remove any potential tensions in the wrists with a massager. Some of them, such as Breo hand massager, are so modern that they use methods similar to reflexology. They relieve the pressure almost instantly but are also good prevention. Lastly, take a break from typing or using the mouse whenever possible. Even a few minutes could do a lot.
3. Ways to stay active in the office
Regular physical exercise is one of the essential factors of a healthy lifestyle. We should be realistic about how much time we really have for going to the gym or jogging. Sometimes it’s very hard to keep the same rhythm. That’s why it’s highly recommendable you find ways to do some physical activity while you’re at work.
● try out a treadmill desk – if your boss is willing to invest in it, it will give you a real chance of being active every day. At least an hour or two of walking on the treadmill while sending emails or typing the project will do the trick.
● sit on an exercise ball – using it instead of a regular chair will engage your core, namely your back and abs, and help you develop good posture. No wonder it’s called ‘active sitting’.
● a stand-up desk – if you think treadmill desk is a bit too much, then get an adjustable standing desk. Standing while working will speed up your blood flow – something that doesn’t happen when you’re sitting. You may find it difficult to stand through the whole working day, so it’s ok if you start with only 3-4 hours of standing and then build it up slowly. In the meantime, adjust it to regular desk height.
● set a timer – sometimes you get carried away with your work and you simply forget to take a break. An app or a Google Chrome plugin will remind you to stop with work, leave the desk and stretch your legs a bit.
● use ankle weights – strength training can be done at the desk while working. Strap on leg weights to tone your legs. Nobody has to see what you’re doing. Do a few repetitions every hour and if you don’t care about what others may think – strut around the office with the weights around your ankles when you take a break.
● mini exercise bike – another cool way of exercising in the office. A mini exercise bike is made to fit under your desk. You can pedal and strengthen your legs while working at your computer or simply dealing with documents. Your calve strength and circulation will be improved.
4. Leave your desk during your lunch break
Recent research has shown that 55% of women and 40% of men don’t leave their desks when they are having a lunch break. This is completely wrong for so many reasons.
First of all, be aware that your office, especially your desk, has 400 times more bacteria than the seat of a public toilet. It’s the crumbs of food that get stuck in the keyboard and other pieces of equipment. In case your desk is not cleaned regularly, be sure that millions of bacteria will be endangering your health. Contrary to that, cafeterias and break rooms are cleaned more regularly, so you should better choose that option when you want to eat.
Secondly, your lunch break is your opportunity to get out of the office and breathe in some fresh air. If possible, take a walk in the park, along the river or simply take a walk around the block while eating. Fresh air and natural surroundings bring benefits to your mental health. You won’t feel so confined in a small space, you’ll get your motivation up and decompress from the office stress. A mental break is equally important as any other type of break.
5. Reduce stress
Office jobs are usually stressful, so you need to fight to decrease levels of stress in your life. It’s important to get your 7-8 hours of sleep every night. It will help you stay in a good mood, be productive and help your cardiovascular system. Improve your private relationships – your desk job won’t throw you out of balance that easily and having quality social support will improve your mental wellness, giving you tools to fight stressful situations in the office.
Your desk job doesn’t have to make you inert. Introducing some novelties into the way you do your work and how you deal with stress will prevent you from experiencing physical pains and emotional fatigue. Making sure your wellness is your priority will also make you more successful at what you do for a living.