Nowadays, many of us hold desk jobs. While having a desk job is less tiring than, say, laying bricks in the sun all day, sitting at a desk for eight hours straight can harm your body. If you work in a busy office environment, taking care of your health may not be your first priority. But if you want to maximize your productivity and work quality, paying attention to your body is fundamental to your success.
- Practise proper ergonomics
You’ll feel better and work better with a proper ergonomics workstation. The NIH Division of Occupational Health and Safety recommends the following:
- Use the surface area of the back of your chair as much as possible for back support
- Align the top of your monitor to eye level
- Place your monitor about an arm’s length from your body
- Place your keyboard and mouse so that your forearms are parallel to the floor and your elbow is at about a 90-degree angle
- Go for a brief walk during your lunch break
Walking is not only good exercise. It’s also great for your mental health. Breathing fresh air and going for a stroll can clear your mind. You may find that walking helps to generate ideas. So, if you’re mulling over a difficult problem, or are in a creative rut, go for a walk. You may get a flash of inspiration or see something outside that triggers an answer to your problem.
- Keep an emergency supply of prescription medication at your desk
Rushing out of bed and into the office may make us forget parts of our morning routine. If you take daily prescription medication, keep a small supply in the office in case you forget a dose. Taking medication regularly is a large part of managing your health.
When stocking up on medication, you’ll find that visiting the pharmacy can be a pain. You can worry less about this by buying your prescription drugs online from international and Canadian pharmacy referral services like Canada Med Pharmacy. Only sourced from licensed pharmacies. These services can ship your medication directly to your doorstep at prices significantly cheaper than American pharmacies. This is convenient for the workaholics among us who are away from home most of the day.
- Keep an emergency supply of over-the-counter medication at your desk
Getting attacked by a headache is one of the worst things that can happen over the course of a workday. Unfortunately, staring at a screen all day can trigger this. Keep a supply of over-the-counter painkillers if you’re prone to headaches, but more importantly, stay hydrated.
If it’s bring-your-dog-to-work day, and you’re allergic to dogs, you may also want to keep antihistamines at your desk. Choose a newer generation of antihistamine that won’t get you drowsy, like Claritin® (loratadine).
- Stay hydrated
Many of us forget to stay hydrated during the workday, but drinking water is an integral part of our health. According to a study in Nutrition Reviews, even mild to moderate dehydration can impact cognitive performance. This includes short-term memory, concentration, and alertness. By contrast, hydration can relieve headaches within 30 minutes to three hours. Lastly, adequate hydration is good for your digestive system. You don’t want to be hunched over your desk with an uncomfortable, constipated tummy all day.
- Make a stand-up desk
To help you add some movement to your desk job routine, you might want a stand-up desk. Stand-up desks are fancy, and not everyone can afford one, but you can easily create a stand-up desk of your own with common office supplies. Use boxes to elevate your computer screen to a comfortable eye-level. If you’re tall, use a chair.
The Division of Occupational Health and Safety also recommends taking 1–2 minute stretch breaks every 20–30 minutes. You can do exercises such as the following:
- Make yourself blink and yawn to stimulate tears that will lubricate your eyes
- Focus your eyes on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes (the “20-20-20” rule)
- Rotate your shoulders
- Massage your hands and stretch out your forearm by pulling your hand back with your other hand
- Stretch your back by reaching around to the back of your chair
- Stay at home if you’re sick
Despite our workaholic culture, it is actually more beneficial to both you and your work to stay home if you’re sick. Staying home to rest will allow you to recover faster, and you can avoid spreading your germs to everyone else in the office. If you force yourself to go to work, you can end up unnecessarily prolonging your illness and your work quality may suffer.
If you really must work, see if you can work from home. This at least allows you to blow your nose as much as you want and work in your pyjamas. When you come back to work refreshed and germ-free, your colleagues will thank you.
Prioritize Your Workplace Health
If you work full time, you’re likely working for the vast majority of your waking hours. So, it only makes sense to make those hours as comfortable as possible. Prioritize your health and well-being, and your productivity and quality of work should follow.