As I write this blog post I can feel my neck and back aching from sitting at a desk all day. I’ve also got a touch of eye strain and I think my knees are a bit locked up. What a mess I must sound! But my discomfort has inspired this blog post, which asks the question: is your workplace making you ill?
The combination of long hours, stressful working conditions and a poor diet can leave us susceptible to all manner of health problems. So perhaps it’s time to look at your work environment and habits to see if they need an overhaul.
Neck, back and shoulder pain is a common problem for deskbound office workers. If you’re one of the many who suffer with these problems perhaps you should take a look at how you’re sitting at your desk.
Most people tend to sit bending slightly forward whilst concentrating on their computer screen, which actually puts twice as much pressure on the lower lumbar discs as standing does.
The best position in which to sit is with your torso and legs at a 110 degree angle with your knees slightly lower than your pelvis. This will reduce strain on your spine. Also, if you use a mouse, make sure that your arm is at a 90 degree angle and your shoulder is relaxed as this will reduce the likelihood of shoulder pain.
Pain on one side of the neck or shoulder could be a result of holding the phone badly. If you wedge the phone between your ear and your shoulder then the muscles on that side of your neck will actually shorten and become more fibrotic as your body adapts itself to this unusual posture. It’s not good is it?! If you are guilty of this habit, why not consider a telephone headset?
photo credit: kugel
Working through lunch
If you sit at your desk for long periods of time (and let’s face it, most of us do) you could end up developing swollen ankles or joint pains. Sitting hunched up at your desk all day is not good for the health of your body as your internal organs are being compressed and you’re not doing your spine any good either.
Try getting into the habit of getting up and walking about the office at least once an hour to break up the amount of time spent sitting still. Use the excuse of making a drink for your colleagues or walk to another office to get something. Moving about will get the blood flowing around your body to all the muscles and joints.
And whatever you do, don’t commit the cardinal sin of sitting at your desk for lunch! Get out into the fresh air and have a walk about. Eat your lunch outside or go to a lunchtime exercise class.
Are you one of those office workers who downs cup after cup of coffee throughout the day? (I must admit I used to be one of these myself.) Caffeinated drinks act as a diuretic and will increase your chances of getting dehydrated which leads to a whole host of health problems (see below).
Herbal teas are a much healthier choice and they are also a great way of getting a variety of herbs that can help with different aliments. For example, ginger tea aids digestion, whereas chamomile tea helps with relaxation. Why not give them a try?
photo credit: BohemianDolls
A common problem suffered by office workers is dehydration caused by working in an environment full of computers, heaters and air con. Dehydration can lead to health problems such as a lack of concentration, headaches, fatigue and constipation due to a build up of toxins in the body.
This is why it’s essential to make sure that you drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Six to eight glasses a day of pure, fresh water is the recommended amount. But, if you really want to check whether you’re drinking enough water, check the colour of your urine – it should be clear rather than dark. If it’s dark then you’re not drinking enough fluids!
Cookies, potato chips and candy are a constant temptation for the stressed-out office worker, particularly during the afternoon when the dreaded 3pm slump looms. Sugary snacks will play havoc with your body’s blood sugar levels, giving you an initial burst of energy followed by another exhausting slump.
Try swapping these unhealthy snacks for something much better for you such as yoghurts, sushi, an apple, or a handful of nuts and seeds. My favourite snack is hummus with oat cakes or a variety of chopped up vegetables such as carrots, celery and raw broccoli.
photo credit: Leo Reynolds
Quick Feng Shui tips
Feeling tired and sluggish could be down to the layout of your office, according to the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui. By making a few adjustments the idea is that you’ll allow the energy or ‘chi’ to flow more freely and release any blockages of stuck or stagnant energy.
Place a fluorite crystal next to your computer to soak up some of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that it emits. These EMFS are said to cause symptoms such as headaches, tiredness and feelings of fatigue.
Cleanse the atmosphere (and add a bit of colour to your desk) by placing a green plant on your desk, next to your computer. Good choices include a peace lily or dwarf banana plant.
Make sure your desk is clear of clutter as this will help you to focus properly. Time to clear away those half drunk cups of coffee and piles of unopened post!
Empty your waste bin regularly to remove stagnancy from the workplace.
Finally here’s one last tip: If you feel exhausted and headachy during the working day, mix a drop each of peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and lemon essential oils into some aloe vera gel and massage into the temples to boost your concentration levels.
About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality.