Office is our second home; we spend an equal or more amount of time at office than we spend at home. It is here that we use our intellectual and/or physical faculties the most and derive a sense of professional accomplishment. Is it therefore not necessary to take care of our health in the office too? Most of us are tied to our desks for long hours, are grappling multiple deadlines and missing meals in our hectic schedules. Though we may not realize it now, all these factors take their toll at some point of time. Their impact is manifested in the form of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), excessive stress, acidity, obesity and lack of nutrition. Hence, just as you take care of yourself at home you need to take care of yourself at office by doing some quick exercises, managing stress and eating wholesome food.
RSI - Growing concern for people who work on desks.
RSI is the most common problem that people having sedentary jobs suffer from. People who put in long hours of work at their desk often complain of pain in their wrist, back and shoulders - a sure sign of RSI. These injuries are very painful and make your daily work a laborious task.
Tendonitis (inflammation of muscle ligaments), Carpal tunnel Syndrome RSI (nerve compression at wrist) are the types of RSIs generally found amongst the people who work on desk, especially the ones working on computers. Poor ergonomics is the main cause for these types of RSIs. Since favorable ergonomics is not precisely definable, observe, improve and adopt the postures and movements that give you maximum comfort. Doing some quick exercises to relax your muscles is also an effective way of preventing RSI. Healing RSI is generally a prolonged process and can be traumatic so follow the proverb 'Prevention is better than cure'.
Tips to prevent RSI
Take small breaks frequently
All the major work is done on computers; once on our seats there is little scope to get up to do something else. This leads to long repetitive use of your hands, wrists, arms and necks resulting in aches, swelling, numbness, tingling, cramps, etc. Take periodic breaks to avoid these. Many short breaks instead of one long break would be advisable. A break can be anything like simply shutting your eyes for a few seconds or getting up and taking a small walk.
Adopt the correct style of typing
Adopting the right style of typing is one of the best ways to prevent Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. First and foremost, use both hands while typing. Using only one hand often leads to contortion of the hand and wrist. Secondly do not rest your hands on the wrist. This will force you to twist your hand to reach out to certain keys. It would be sensible to move your hands freely above the keyboard as you type.
Stretch at intervals
If you are continuously typing, you can stretch your wrists from time to time. Stretch your calves to prevent formation of blood clots in the legs. Move your head side-to-side and forward and backward to stretch your neck. Stretching your arms, legs and neck while sitting will help prevent stiffness. If your can get up from your seat and stretch your complete body, there is nothing like it as it will help loosen all your muscles.
Improve your ergonomics
Follow proper sitting and standing postures. Set your monitor and keyboard to a height that does not strain your hands or neck. The top of the monitor in straight line with your eyes and the keyboard placed in a position that your elbow bends at a right angle is the best position for you. Sit straight with your shoulders relaxed and your feet touching the floor or a foot rest. Ensure that your knees and elbows are at right angles. Sit with upper arms to your side and your forearms horizontal or tilted slightly downward.
Exercise at your desk
A few exercises at your desk will definitely help you from developing RSI. You can stretch your arms wide and pull your shoulders back. These movements that can be conducted in the middle of your work sitting on your desk will give a good stretch to your upper chest making you feel relaxed. A few rotational movements of the wrists and ankles would also be a good exercise to prevent RSI. Repeated contraction and expansion of your abdominal muscles will also help in stretching and working out the muscles. Do not neglect your eyes. Continued focus on the computer screen strains your eyes; a few blinks now and then will exercise your eyes. If possible splash your eyes with cold water 2-3 times a day to relax them Breathing exercise can be performed anywhere, so why not on your working desk? Sit straight, take in a few deep breathes and see the magic - you will feel more energetic.
Any form of tension or pressure that an employee endures while performing his professional duties in a timely and efficient manner is termed as 'work-related stress' by experts. Work-related stress often spills over into personal life and often is the instigator of more serious problems like blood pressure and hypertension. Tension and pressure at office arises due to aggressive deadlines, abiding by the requirements of the boss and the clients, achieving targets, etc. As all these factors are unavoidable at workplaces today, the best solution lies in conquering and managing stress.
Ways to combat stress in office
Prioritize and manage work
Plan and prioritize your work so that you will not lag behind your deadlines. Clearing off your work on a daily basis and according to importance will keep you assured and relaxed.
Healthy interaction with colleagues
Take time to interact with your colleagues; speak to them about your worries and ask for help when necessary. Emotional support from co-workers helps in reducing stress. Have your lunch with colleagues and avoid discussing work at lunch. A hearty and light conversation at lunch time will pep you up for the rest of the day.
"Laughter is the best medicine" - a little humorous chat with colleagues or finding humour in day-to-day office situations will lift off some tension.
Improve your perception
Think positive and think rational. Many a times the situation may not be as bad as you think. It is your reaction to the situation that develops stress, so keep away from negative thoughts.
Imagery - a powerful method to reduce stress
Use your imagination to relax yourself by imagining about a pleasant scene, something that will make you happy - a vacation at a beautiful location, a dream home etc. A few minutes of closed eyes and into a world of your imagination will relax you considerably.
Meditation in office
We all know that meditation is the best way to relax one's body and mind. So why not perform it in the office sitting in front of your computer. You can go about by taking a comfortable position in your chair and following the below steps:
- Sit quietly with your eyes closed
- Slowly relax the muscles of your feet and work upwards, relaxing all your muscles one by one.
- Inhale deeply and then slowly exhale. Count your breath to avoid distraction of mind.
A few minutes of meditation and observe the difference for yourself, you will feel relaxed and light.
A healthy body for a healthy mind
Long working hours with irregular eating habits lead to ill health. Eating at odd hours or after a long gap can cause acidity or accumulation of fat in the starved body and overeating can cause lethargy. These factors affect your health and in turn your performance and happiness. Eating nutritious food at regular intervals is a must for good health. Avoid scheduling meetings or other work during lunch time.
The office may be having a well equipped canteen with delicious and tasty food. But do make sure to eat healthy stuff. Most of the office caterers do not provide healthy food. If your office does not serve healthy food make sure you carry it from home. There is a greater problem than this - Time. Do we have the time to get up from our desks to get some eatable from the canteen? Not always. So it is better to stuff your desk with some healthy food to maintain the nutrition in your body. Here are some tips to help you eat better at office.
- There is nothing better than the home made snacks. Carry them to office and eat at intervals. Alternatively you can stuff your drawers with nuts and snacks made of whole grain, which contain essential fatty acids and give instant energy.
- Carry a bottle of milk-shake or low fat yoghurt to office, it will add to the nutritional value of your intake.
- "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" - take one to office and have it as an evening snack. You need not restrict to apple, you can take any fruit of your choice.
- If you are having your snacks from canteen then substitute pizzas and burgers with sprout chaats, bhel puri, idli and upmas.
- Take a few minutes in the morning before leaving to office to wash, slice and tin a few salad vegetables. This can serve as a nutritional mid time snack.
- If you are eating your lunch from the canteen or ordering it through a tiffin service make sure it is a healthy one.
- Last but not the least, drink plenty of water. Keep a bottle or two filled with water handy on your desk and keep drinking at intervals.
- A few minutes to fuel your body with nutrition and energy are worth it.
Maintaining your health in a demanding work environment is in your hands. It may be a little difficult to begin with, but once you set out, you will see the benefits for yourself. Remember your health is your key to happiness; only with good health will you be able to enjoy the fruits of your professional and personal accomplishments.