You have a bursting headache, or your eyes are sore, maybe your shoulders are aching, perhaps your body is stiff or your lower back aches, you may even have pins and needles in your feet or legs… It doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
Yet, these are some of the little talked about and unglorified aspects of the laptop lifestyle of an entrepreneur, whether you’re working from home, in an office, coffee shop, hotel lobby or wherever it may be.
As a business owner who loves her (his) work, it’s easy to put your head down, get all absorbed by whatever you’re doing and forget to lift your head up for hours.
Especially when you work from home on your serviced-based business, you could easily spend the whole day staring at a screen. After all,
✓ You have your client meetings and networking calls on Zoom, Skype or some other virtual teleconference facility.
✓ You’re probably putting together presentations or proposals.
✓ You’re likely on social media promoting your business and building connections to expand your network.
✓ You’re responding to emails and messages.
✓ At times, you may be flipping between one screen to another – from your computer to your smartphone/tablet and back.
I totally get it. I admit that I’ve more than once or twice been all engrossed in doing something until the excruciating pain from the pins and needles in my right leg remind me that sitting on my leg while on a chair for 45 minutes is a terrible idea!
While it’s fantastic to get into such a flow that you forget about everything else, there are unhealthy aspects to spending your whole day chained to your desk. In effect, it causes more damage than it does good in the long run.
For starters, after a while, you stop being in flow but you’re just sitting there trying to squeeze something out of your brain but nothing’s coming out. So, you end up being counterproductive (aimlessly checking your emails or scrolling through social media, anyone?).
Did you know that as many as 70% of people in developed countries suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)?
CVS is associated with experiencing eye discomfort and vision problems when looking at a computer screen for more than 2 hours per day. If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, you may also be affected by it:
- Your eyes are feeling sore, strained, dry or irritated.
- You’re suffering from headaches.
- You’re experiencing blurred or double vision or have trouble refocusing your eyes.
- You have neck and shoulder pain.
And typically, the above symptoms are much worse when using tablets and smartphones.
Aside from these, you may also be feeling rather stiff generally or suffer from backaches. If you’re experiencing any of these bodily signals, it’s time to take better care of your body while working.
5 Highly Beneficial Ways to Take Better Care of Your Body
Here are 5 highly effective ways to being healthier at work, which will also come with fabulous benefits.
Would you want to increase your ability to focus, have more energy and be more productive during your working day while feeling in good shape after you’ve wrapped up for the day? “Yeah“, I hear you enthusiastically say!
Here we go:
1. Mind your posture
It’s much easier to have a good posture if you have an ergonomically good working setup. I’d suggest having a proper desk and chair.
And if, like all my clients, you’re using a laptop instead of a desktop, I’d also suggest investing in an external keyboard, mouse and computer screen. These will make it much easier to sit correctly and they don’t have to cost the earth either. Working off a laptop naturally leads you to hunch over as you stare at the tiny font of your little screen.
2. Take Eye Breaks
To reduce straining your eyes and the associated symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, check out protectyourvision.org. It’s a fabulous free tool, which reminds you to give your eyes a break from your screen on a regular basis. It offers three different modes and at the end of each, a sound comes on and your screen goes black.
✓ 20-20-20 – where you take a 20-second break after spending 20 mins in front of the computer and you focus on an object that is 20 feet (6 meters) away from you. This method is perfect if you’re doing tasks using the Pomodoro technique.
✓ 60-5 – you spend an hour of deep work and then you take a 5-minute break
✓ Custom – Alternatively, you can design your own times. I like working for 45 minutes and then having a 5-10-minute break.
Better still, mix it up based on the type of work you’re doing or as you come to a natural stop.
Of course, you can also use the timer on your phone or your watch to remind you instead of using the online tool.
This leads nicely to my third tip:
3. Move, Move, Move
Sitting is the new smoking! Research shows that our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are linked to a significantly higher risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and depression. Plus, it can lead to muscle and joint problems.
It turns out that even if you exercise regularly but end up sitting for prolonged periods, your metabolism is adversely affected.
Luckily, by getting up and moving, even if only for a few minutes every hour, you can reduce the negative effects of sitting. You can use some of your eye breaks to get up and move. Two-in-one anyone?
Here are a few things you can during your breaks:
✓ Stretch – Rotate your head/neck, swing your arms forwards and then backwards, pretend that you have a hula-hoop and move your waist in circles three times to the left and then three times to the right. If you’re feeling up to it, try some jumping jacks, twists, air punches… – take your pick!
✓ Put your house in order – If you have some house chores that can be done or broken down into bursts of 5-10 minutes (like putting on the washing machine, folding the laundry, throwing away the rubbish) you can use some of your breaks to get through those – just be careful not to get carried away and forget about the work you are meant to be doing! 🙂
✓ Walk around – Fitbit suggests making 250 steps every hour. If you have stairs, go up and down a few times. If you have a garden or a balcony, get out and take a few deep breaths filling your lungs with fresh air. It may also be time to head over to the kitchen to top up on water and healthy snacks, which leads me on to my final tips.
Any decent nutritionist will tell you to drink plenty of water. It not only helps you prevent or get rid of nasty headaches, but it improves your focus and keeps your thinking sharp.
5. Feed Your Brain
While I’d be wary of too frequent visits to the fridge or the cupboard, it’s important to eat foods that promote your brain function e.g. nuts, seeds, oily fish (subject to allergies and food intolerances).
Oh, I’d also suggest avoiding the temptation to eat at your desk or check your smart device while munching on your lunch.
Now, it’s time to take action
Doing all of these at once may feel a bit too overwhelming, so you may find it helpful to pick one and try it for a few days or weeks.
Here are some questions to help you choose which action to take:
- Which one will make the biggest difference to how you feel?
- Which one is the easiest for you to implement and stick to?
- Which one haven’t you tried and you’re curious to try?
I’d love to know what you have picked and why – what are you experiencing at the moment and how do you hope it will help you? Comment below or send me a message.
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Photo Credit: StartupStockPhotos – Pixabay