How to reduce the stress and strain on your body when you’re working from home.

Julia Allan-Goodwin

April 6, 2020

1. Try and make your work station set up as ergonomic as possible!

  • I know this will be hard to do at the moment with many given minimal notice that they will be working from home and many stores selling out of ergonomic equipment but there are a few things you can do to try and maximize your set up.

    (Image thanks to https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169)

2.  Use a supportive chair or adapt with what you have:

       

 

  • Ideally your chair should be high enough that your knees are not above your hips or slightly lower than your hips.
  • If you’re using a non-ergonomic chair such as a dining chair try to raise it up if needed with cushions underneath and try using a pillow to create better back support (as per the picture on the right above).

 

 3. Standing desks

  • Using a standing desk is ideal to reduce the load on your back and hips from long periods of sustained sitting, especially if your normal job doesn’t usually require this amount of sitting. This is a good option to be able to mix up your position whilst still allowing you to keep working on the computer.

 

  • If you don’t have access to a standing desk or are unable to purchase the desk extender (picture 2 above) you could get creative and add something on top of your kitchen bench to make it an appropriate standing desk height. There is a good example of a DIY version of this in the pictures below.

 

 

                   

 

 

 

4. Laptop VS Monitor:

  • One of the biggest errors I see is those that use a laptop where the screen height is too low which causes them to slouch. However, by raising the laptop up higher the keyboard is then too high to be ergonomically ideal for the forearm muscles and wrists.

 

  • The two ways to avoid this issue is by either purchasing a screen monitor and having this raised up and then using your keyboard on the laptop at the appropriate height.

OR

  • Raising the keyboard up and using an external/wireless keyboard that you can have at a lower height.

(Image thanks to http://shoeboxdwelling.com/2017/06/29/standing-desk-by-humble-works/)

 

5. What Height and Location for screen?

  • The ideal height for your screen is for the top 1/3 of your screen to be at the level of your eye height. This helps to avoid the head and shoulders slouching down to get closer to the screen.
  • The ideal location for the screen is directly in front but not too far away. A general rule is that you should be able to reach your arm out in front and touch your screen with your finger without having to reach or lean forward.

(Images thanks to https://www.viewsonic.com/library/business/best-computer-screen-positioning/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Reminders for correcting posture!

  • Once your desk set up is optimized the next part of the picture is improving your posture which is often habit related.
  • Most of the time we all know how to sit with good posture we just forget when we get tired and busy/distracted.
  • The best thing to try and combat a habit change is regular reminders.
  • Try setting up a reminder on your phone or on your computer to go off every 15 minutes to help remind you to correct your posture. Hopefully, after doing this regularly your brain will start to learn how it should be sitting most of the time and you wont have to consciously think about it anymore!

7. Regular stretching routine!

  • Sitting for long hours at a desk is unfortunately not ideal for anybody and particular muscles and joints will have more load and inevitably become tighter. Apart from reducing some strain and tension by improving your posture and desk ergonomics the next best thing is to complete a regular stretching routine to release the tightness the commonly develops.

 

  • Here is a link to our blog focusing purely on a home stretching program for desk workers or a PDF attachment to the program that you can print.

8. Get Moving!

  • Avoiding long sustained periods of time sitting at your desk is a great way to reduce tension and tightness building up.
  • Try and mix up your day with a walk, run or general exercise workout to help get you moving more before and after work or during your lunch break.
  • If you can maximize phone calls with colleagues that you don’t need to be by the desk perhaps try walking around the house or backyard while you are on the phone to increase your walking steps during the working day as well.

9. Reduce Stress as much as possible!

  • It is very stressful times at the moment with many facing financial hardship or those that are working either seem to be swamped with work or have the underlying stress of worrying about how much longer they will have a job for.
  • Where possible try to manage this stress as often the body reacts by creating more tension in your neck and shoulder muscles which can lead to headaches and pain.

Some tips on this:

  • Regular deep breathing exercises and mindfulness
  • Daily yoga/stretching program
  • Listening to music
  • News detox – Try to avoid overwhelming yourself in your down time by watching too much news and try to deliberately switch off by listening to music, walking, gardening, reading etc.
  • Debrief work stress with colleagues
  • Use mindfulness Apps such as – Headspace
  • Exercise has proven benefits for reducing stress and anxiety

If you would like any further tips on how you can improve your work station set up, please call us on 52772151 or book in online. We can review you in the clinic for a face to face contact or via a video call on telehealth.