As we all adapt to the changes that Covid-19 has thrown our way, a lot of people are now working at home and sitting more than ever before, and maybe not in the most comfortable chairs. However, as the saying goes, time moves on and we need to move forward as best we can, even if it’s not perfect. In this time we’re living healthy postural habits, exercise, mental and emotional resilience, and self-discipline might easily have found their way to the back burner. But new bad habits are the easiest to squash. To address some of these challenges, following are three ways you can continue your best self-care while working from home.
Set Up a Designated Work Space
As appealing as they might look, the sofa and bed aren’t optimal work spaces. Although the term laptop might lend itself to thinking it’s okay to work from your lap, doing so is hard on your body. It’s impossible to sit up straight and keep your spine, arms, and head properly aligned when your lap becomes your desk. This can result in neck, shoulder, low-back, and wrist pain. Following are some things to keep in mind when setting up your work space.
1)Use an office chair. Office chairs are designed to be adjusted to fit your individual body type and the way you sit at your desk. Sit all the way back on the chair and use a small pillow or other cushion to support your lower back if the chair doesn’t offer that support. When the pelvis is aligned and supported, the rest of the spine naturally follows.
2)Adjust the height of the computer monitor so the top portion of the screen aligns with your eyes. This will support a lifted head rather than looking down or up, which can cause neck tension.
3)Invest in a wireless keyboard and mouse. Your arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle. When using a laptop, because the screen and keyboard are directly atop one another, either the monitor will be too low or your arms will be too high without a separate keyboard and mouse.
Below is an info graphic designed to show proper sitting positions. Take a look at the graphic and then consider how you are sitting, especially if you are sitting for long periods of time. Consider the position of your chair and the posture you are using. If you aren’t sure take a picture and let that picture be your guide. Proper posture is key to your spinal health.
For every hour you work at a computer, take a 5- to 10-minute stretch break. When you move your body, you bring fresh oxygen and nutrients to your tissues while also circulating “feel-good” hormones that keep you focused, creative, and joyful. Here are some specific stretches to counteract the bad work ergonomics you might be experiencing from your work-from-home setup.
Give these stretches a try and see if you have a much more productive work day!