Most of us do not have health and safety or ergonomists coming to our houses to make sure our new “shelter in place” work stations are set up properly.
The first thing we want to remind ourselves is that, though our jobs are important, the show will go on if you take a break. When you are limited to your surroundings or environment, you should modify your actual working times to accommodate those changes. Simply getting up and moving around for 5-10 minutes every hour will make a huge difference in how you feel mentally and physically. The better you feel, the more productive you will be throughout the working day.
Simply set a timer and take a small break every hour of your working day. This may seem a bit much, but the payoff in mental and physical well being both personally and professionally is worth the time and effort. Grab a glass of water, stretch a little, work out some of those sore spots and reposition yourself in your chair. Make sure to sit up tall with the shoulders relaxed as best you can and the head and neck as neutral as possible.
Most importantly make sure to breath. Most people breath with what are called the accessory muscles of respiration. These muscles are attached to the ribs and are responsible for “shallow” breathing. We typically revert to this when we are under a sympathetic type of load. We can also put ourselves into this sympathetic state by purposefully breathing with these muscles.
To get the most relaxation and the best volume of air intake make sure you are breathing with your stomach. What that means is, when you breath your stomach moves in and out. The primary muscle for respiration is called the diaphragm. When the diaphragm contracts it pulls the lungs down, which makes the belly extend out. When the diaphragm relaxes the lungs collapse and the belly flattens. Go ahead try it!
Make sure you start out doing this every time you start or come back to your new at home work station. Be mindful that you continue to perform this throughout the day. The more you become aware of this the easier it becomes until eventually you have retrained yourself to do it without noticing.
Next in our series we will look at that neck pain you’re starting to develop and some ways to alleviate it.