Office Time: Friend or Foe

On average, we spend more time at work and doing work-related tasks than we do on any other activities. We need to make a conscious effort to manage and combat the less than ideal effects of the daily grind. Here are a few ideas and tactics to keep you feeling good as you tackle your workday.

Reduce time spent sitting and if you can’t, sit correctly.

Researchers from Loughborough University and the University of Leicester found that sitting for prolonged periods of time leads to neck and back pain, increased risk of diabetes, inflammatory illnesses, and slower metabolisms.

Get out of your chair every hour for at least two minutes. Stretch your back by bending forward at the waist or do a spiral rotation to elongate your vertebrae. There are a variety of ways to do this and you should pick the one that feels most comfortable to you. The most important thing to remember here is to simply get up and do it.

There is actually a science behind how you sit: ergonomics. It starts with good posture and bringing your body into alignment with the computer screen, desk, and floor. Creating right angles at your major joints puts less strain on your skeletal system than when you sit cross-legged and crunched up.

Be kind to your eyes.

The majority of complaints from people who work on computers are eyestrain and fatigue. The popular symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome include red, dry, and twitching eyes. Here are a few tips for reducing the stress on your baby blues, brilliant browns, and glorious greens.

Keep your eyes moist. Blinking is a natural way to moisten your eyes to prevent dryness and reduce irritation. When people work on a computer, they tend to blink less frequently—about one-third as often as they normally do—and many blinks performed during computer work are only partial lid closures.

Use proper lighting. Excessively bright light from natural sunlight coming into the room or harsh interior lighting should be filtered using blinds or sheer curtains, or by positioning your computer screen so light comes in from the side instead of from in front or behind it. Try using lightbulbs that are full spectrum but not overly bright.

Minimize glare. Reflections on your screen can cause eye irritation as well. Paint your walls with a matte finish and use deeper colors. According to Gary Heiting, OD, if you wear glasses, get lenses with an anti-reflective coating.

Bring the great outdoors in.

A Texas A&M University research team studied the relationship between flowers, plants, and productivity. Their research revealed that tasks performed in the presence of plants keep employees less stressed and more focused. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air and that can lead to significant health consequences.

Plants help purify the air. In their study of the best houseplants to combat indoor pollution, NASA came up with a list of 15 recommendations, all of which can be found at a local nursery. Here are the top five: heartleaf philodendron, elephant ear philodendron, cornstalk dracaena, English ivy, and the spider plant.

Welcome a touch of color. Flowers improve people’s attitude and help combat workplace burnout. Different colors can evoke different moods.

If you are anything like me, it is so easy to find yourself in a highly productive groove, but one where you forget to do the things you know are good for you­, like move, blink, and take a pause for some fresh air.

I challenge you, now that you have read this post, to put some of this into practice. Become more self-aware of your workplace environment and how you interact with it. You’ll wind up enjoying work more, and suffer a bit less. I’m challenging myself to do the same.

The first step toward change is awareness. The second
step is acceptance.
– Nathaniel Branden, psychologist

By Ellen Aldrich

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