At The Desk

1. Get It Right: Boring as it may be, you should make sure your work area is set up correctly from the beginning. You’ve seen the terribly un-inspiring images of proper desk ergonomics, but unless you’re a robot, you’ll most likely ignore them. Here’s what a human can do to feel better, for longer at a desk:

– Sit on a comfortable, adjustable chair that supports the natural lumbar curve of your lower back.
– Position the top of screen in line with your eyes (prop it up with a few phone books if necessary).
– Ensure the screen is directly in front of you and not off to the side.
– Your elbows should not be raised above 90°.
– Stop tucking one leg under your butt (no matter how comfortable it is).

2. Move: Get up and move regularly. Don’t go any longer than an hour without breaking your desk posture. Your muscles need a variety of movements to promote proper function and health. So stand up, walk around, swing your arms, shake your hands, roll your shoulders, stretch your neck, or do any combination of movements to loosen yourself up. WARNING: Getting too carried away with this may lead to becoming the office weirdo.

3. Look Away: Let your eyes take regular breaks from the computer screen. Eye strain commonly causes headaches and neck pain. Again, don’t let an hour go by without looking away from your screen and focusing on different objects at varying distances around the room. See an optometrist if you find yourself squinting or suffering from sore eyes regularly.

4. Water: At risk of sounding like your mum, you’re probably not drinking enough water. Dehydration leads to headaches, muscle soreness and fatigue. 2L (or 8 glasses) per day is the most common recommendation. But if like me, you hate the idea of counting glasses or litres, just keep a bottle of water at hand. You’ll find yourself reaching for it without even thinking. Remember: 60% of your weight is water, so make sure you keep topped up.

5. Eat: Whenever I don’t eat properly, my body will punish me with headaches, fatigue and irritability. Make sure you’re not skipping meals or having too much refined sugar. Feed your body with the right fuel and it will thank you with improved concentration, less tension and more energy.

After Work 

6. Heat Pack: Get some fresh blood pumping through your muscles after a tiring day at the office. Putting a heat pack on your shoulders or back stimulates circulation to reduce aches and pains. Plus it’ll help you unwind after a stressful day. Having regular hot baths is the next step.

7. Rolled Up Towel: Desk work promotes poor posture of rounded shoulders and hunched upper back. To help negate these patterns, finish the day at home by lying on a rolled up towel along the length of your spine. Aim to relax on it for at least 10 minutes. This is great when combined with a heat pack.

General Maintenance 

8. Exercise: You don’t need to become a gym junkie or the next marathon runner, but include some form of exercise in your daily routine. Aim to get moving for just 20 minutes a day in any way you can – walking, running, cycling, swimming, Yoga, Pilates, dancing, martial arts, or whatever floats your boat. Just get into the routine of exercising and getting your heart pumping a little more.

9. Leave Work At The Office: It’s so easy to let your work problems follow you home and interrupt valuable home time. We’re all guilty of this, but until we set ourselves some boundaries, we’ll continue to be a slave to our jobs. We can’t wait for home time to come around, but we never mentally leave the office. Your work issues can wait until the morning. Home time is for you to recharge and focus on family.

10. Get A Massage: We’re totally biased here, but if you’re reading this, you already know how good massage makes you feel. Having a regular treatment will help you destress, negate poor postural habits and relieve the inevitable build of tension in your muscles.

If you have any other tips that help you get through a day at the desk, we’d love to hear them. Share them in a comment below.