Millions of people around the world are currently facing the challenges of working from home. As such, these can place significant strains on our physical and mental wellbeing. As I write this article, it is Week-6 of UK COVID-19 restrictions and I have to report, our clinic is receiving an increasing number of phone calls asking for advice. To help with these challenges, the clinic has been giving free virtual consultations to members of the community which has given us a snapshot of what’s happening out there.
Most requests are related to back, neck and muscle pain; and of course, stress. We believe the most likely culprits for this sudden rise is poor workspace setups and living more sedentary lifestyles. I include here some of the key issues that have cropped consistently in our consultations and encourage you to take on board:
1. Assess your workplace Workers who have been asked to work from home do so in environments that aren’t necessarily ideal. Just as you would modify your car seat after your spouse has used it, you should assess and modify your workstation. HR don’t plan to come to your house to do it for you. Here’s the checklist:
a. Eyes: Screen height should be straight ahead at eye level. Adjust the height of your seat. Don’t work with your laptop on your thighs! Consider a verti-lift screen adjuster or if wish to splash out, a sit to standing desk.
b. Good Posture: Elbows level with the desk and shoulders relaxed. Bottom should be against the back seat and shoulder blades should be touching the back rest of the chair. Knees should not be higher than hips. Maintain a relaxed posture. Breathe.
c. Brugger! Google “Bruggers Relief” and do this throughout the day.
d. Standing: Stand up every 45-minutes (at least) and move around, even if it’s just to get a glass of water. This will stop a process called “creep” occurring in your muscles which increases your risk of injury.
2. Hydrate Have a glass or a bottle of water next to your desk throughout the day to help keep you well hydrated.
3. Have a break Ensure you have a break in your designated lunchtime. Get out in the sunshine and get some immune enhancing Vitamin D – viruses don’t want you know about this!
4. Exercise “Sitting is the new smoking”. This WILL be a driver in the surge of aches and pains we will see after the lockdown is lifted. Ensure that every day you do some form of exercise. This is particularly important for our mental wellbeing as well as physical.
5. Offer Support Human beings are social animals. Keeping in regular contact with your friends, families and neighbours and offering to help out whenever you can causes the brain to secrete dopamine – one of our happy hormones. If you haven’t tried in a while, give it a go.
6. Watch Your Thoughts: Be grateful that you have a roof over your head; a job; a family; a purpose; an opportunity to reflect; an opportunity to plan. A good mindset will most certainly help you and your mental wellbeing get through this time.