The simplest definition of stress is force that produces physical or emotional tension or strain on the body. If you work at a computer or a desk you’re at risk for back pain, carpal-tunnel problems, eyestrain and obesity. These are all common symptoms of workplace related stress injuries. That’s great news, huh. But just because you’re at risk for these stress and anxiety related effects, doesn’t mean these things will necessarily happen to you (sigh of relief…). You can take control of your workspace and your workday to reduce these physical symptoms, so that you don’t have to do your job at risk to your body.
Is your Employer Making the Workplace an Anti-Stress Environment?
Good companies have employees who specialize in setting up office equipment to be ergonomically correct, relieving and dealing with weird, repetitive movements that put unnatural work related strain on your body. The tilt of a computer screen, glare from a window, the position of your mouse can all contribute to potential causes for physical problems. Managing the seemingly small details of your workspace can add up to big relievers in tension and your overall health.
How to Relieve and Manage Work Related Body Tension
A physical therapist I know recommends to her clients that they take a five or ten-minute break every hour that they’re at work on the computer. Get up, walk around, wiggle your fingers, get the blood moving to your seat and feet are several ways to relieve common on the job aches and pains.
Be a Clutter Reducer: Clear your Desk
Keeping your desk clear of unnecessary items is also a great stress management technique. It’s surprising to see the number of people who try to manipulate a mouse, keyboard, papers, monitor and paper clips on a desk that also contains a coffee mug, pictures of the family, a list of jokes from the office intranet, and a flower in a vase. Morale-building items are nice to have around, but try attaching them to a nearby wall or placing them on a shelf above your desk, leaving yourself room to move. Training yourself to keep the desk clutter away will be a good emotional reducer of stress.
Easy Natural Techniques: A Good Chair and Some Exercise
A good chair is essential to the mostly-seated worker. But keep in mind that a good chair is a very personal thing, because our bodies are all built differently and have unique needs. If your chair isn’t comfortable, if your feet fall asleep, or your rump hurts, if your back gets sore, or your get headaches from neck or back strain consider reconfiguring your seating situation. Whether you are a teen or college student writing a term paper or an employee who spend a lot of time at the computer, a comfortable chair will have a huge reduction of body tension (daily exercise like walking or biking is natural way to deal as well!).
Play with your current chair, experimenting with changing its height and tilt. Some office chairs are built with extra padding where the cheeks of the rear end usually rest. It amazes me that anyone can sit on these chairs, since the padding under the cheeks dips into a valley right where the average spine should end. So what you have is people sitting on a hill in the place where they’re already well padded, with no support for the spine.