Work from home is a privilege we don’t take for granted. But trying to be productive in isolation, especially during a situation as challenging as this one presents a whole new set of challenges. For one, work from home has blurred the lines between personal and professional lives. Then, that constant need to check emails takes a hypnotizing hold on your week (and state of mind). Or you’re just having trouble getting some much-needed shut-eye. Some may feel that not having a designated office or an ergonomic chair might trigger excruciating backaches. Ahead, we show you how to create a healthier home office.
The back-up plan
Long sitting hours, incorrect sleeping patterns and sitting postures mean grappling with lower back pain and aches in your neck. Never has sitting up straight, with good support for your back, been more essential. Poor posture is not only bad for your back, but it also creates added stress on your shoulders. If you don’t have a proper WfH set-up, it could make you prone to slouch. Invariably, workstations, including the office desk and chair are generically designed, making them ill-suited for prolonged hours of sitting.
Regardless of your setting, it’s imperative to shift your position every 2-3 minutes. Another important practise? Take breaks. Get up and take a short sprint indoors every 20 minutes, untethering yourself from your screens. Simply, set a timer on a time-tracking app or ask Alexa or Siri to remind you.
Off the wrist
Typing away from long hours also puts tremendous pressure on the hands, fingers and even wrists. Sounds familiar? Then, it’s not something you should treat casually because while working on a computer, your hand is at 45 degree angle. This constant pounding can lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The first symptoms are tingling and numbness in the fingers, which progresses to aching or shooting pains and weakness in the hand and forearm.
The easiest way to prevent CTS is good posture. Back should be upright, feet should be flat on the floor, elbows close to the body, forearms parallel to the ground and wrists unbent. And your computer screen should be at eye level. Investing in an ergonomic laptop stand and mouse such as a vertical mouse, a trackball, or a stylus with a graphics tablet can help immensely too.
If your work from home routine has been reduced to Zoom, emails and more screen time, then your eyes get the raw end of the deal. It can even develop into tension headaches. A lapse in blinking often causes dryness. While it is an involuntary action, when you’re in front of the computer screen, you should make a conscious effort to blink more.
Another great fix that’s free? Natural light. It can reduce eye strain and boost your wellbeing. If you are not privy to good lighting in your home office, pair overhead lighting with task lighting for the best balance of lighting to help you focus. Those who find themselves squinting to try to read the text on your screen, increase the font size of your phones and computers. If possible, get a pair of blue light glasses. Last but not least, follow the 20-20 rule-every 20 minutes of continuous work, look away from your screen for at least 20 seconds at a far off object.
With the ‘normal’ life turned on its head, it’s likely you might find yourself tossing and turning at night. We have all been there! Sleep deprivation, whether self-imposed or stress-related, have proven to have short- and long-term effects on your wellbeing.
Your first step towards sleeping better should be sleeping enough. A consistent schedule is just as important. Sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. One to two hours before bed, avoid any screen that emits a blue light, which your brains read as sun. Rely on your nighttime routine-taking a bath or a shower is an effective remedy, avoid caffeine, and create a shut-eye ambience with a diffuser and essential oils. If you’re an overthinker, make a to-do list for the next day. Call it a planner or a worry journal if you will, but jotting your thoughts an hour before bedtime will help get that processing done before its time to relax and rejuvenate.