We know what it’s like at this time of year, the wedding season is over and you’re sitting for hours at your desk editing / admin-ning / working away on your business. Having a sore neck, back and shoulders (and everything else in between) doesn’t need to be a given when working from your computer. I know from experience on running a full-time online business that self-care is important and gets pushed down the priority list *if only you could just send those final 10 emails already*. Phew.
I asked a few of my favourite people to help me make a list of healthy habits while working at a computer where we share how we all take care of our minds and bodies when sitting at a computer for hours on end.
So here we are, we have 16 ways to take care of yourself when you work at a computer - there are quite a few reference links here for you to enjoy, and we promise, we're not affiliates of any kind 😀
1. Get up and stretch regularly. Do you ever go into one of those work-time-warps and look up from your computer screen 5 hours later? Setting a timer in your calendar at hourly intervals can be a really great solution, even if that mini-break only means putting the kettle on, you’re still encouraging yourself to get up from the screen for a few moments, move around and think about something else.
2. Drink plenty of water. Now, I hate to admit it but common sense might be onto something here. We are made up of 70% water after all so it’s hard to expect our brains and bodies to be in tip-top shape if their constantly dehydrated! As a reminder to drink more (water… not gin) try having a big glass of water next to your desk when you sit down to work..
3. Drink herbal tea rather than caffeinated drinks. If you know me then you’ll know that I am a coffee and tea connoisseur, however the last 6 months I’ve been switching over to mainly decaf and I tell you, it really can make a huge difference to your concentration and energy levels. Many of the women on Team Shine also try to drink less caffeine and stick to herbal tea or decaf and have noticed it makes a difference too.
4. Starting off the day with a walk. I may be the least physically active person I know, so I try to start each work day by leaving the house and going for a stomp. I listen to a Spotify playlist called "Walking Like a Badass" which may amuse you. If you like rock music, you may enjoy it too, you can follow along here. Even if you walk around the block to get yourself a sneaky (decaf) latte, then you’re still ironing out some of those kinks before you sit down and get cracking (pun intended). Oh and leave the house every day.
5. Writing an end of day review specifically for my work day. Call it an ‘end of day review’ or just a scribble in your diary, writing a few words about what you are grateful to yourself for today can be a really supportive practice. Here at Team Shine love to emphasise what we’re grateful for and have found it to be so supportive when it’s so easy to spend all our time dwelling on the negative / sh*t you didn’t get done that day!
6. Getting a screen that's the right height for you. Do you find yourself slumping over or rounding your shoulders when you work? I had the worst posture but since I got a laptop stand to prop up my laptop it has stopped my neck being at such an awkward angle, highly recommend! I found it so supportive that now all of Team Shine have laptop stands for their work and we love using them achieve the correct height for our posture. It is affordable, portable, lightweight, easy to adjust, comes in multiple colours (including gold! If only they had a pink sequin one...
Here is a great (if not slightly grey, soz) image to show good posture at your desk:
7. Get a proper chair (your bed doesn’t count) We all know the temptation of not getting out of bed, propping up some pillows and working in your PJ’s but it really is the worst thing to do for your posture. Here on Team Shine we are big fans of this Ikea chair as it was voted within the top 9 ergonomic office chairs in April 2017 and really doesn’t break the bank.
8. Using an alternative/body-friendly desk and chair
There are so many different ways that you can work, and often it can be nice to be able to switch things around to give your body a break from one position. At Team Shine you can find us working at standing desks or sit down desks, alternating chairs, sitting on a meditation cushion and a low table or even the occasional yoga ball! It’s all about switching things up so that your muscles don’t get worked too hard in one position.
9. Your hands need looking after too. Whereas some people might be terrified of clowns and buttons (seriously, look it up, it's a thing!), I’m terrified of carpal tunnel and RSI (repetitive strain injuries). Investing in a cool ergonomic mouse, for example this one named the 'Penguin' is a perfect way to support our wrists. This is also a great website for ergonomic keyboards and other desk supports. Some of us love our gel cushion wrist rest (increase ergonomics of the keyboard), but a rolled up tea towel can work, too.
10. Not forgetting our favourite wobble cushion here
Now it may look like I’m recommending some kind of torture device to you, but I swear this is the real deal, I mean look, they come in hot pink! My spiky cushion supports my posture and eases back pain as I’m working and it’s way more comfortable then it looks, I swear. I’d really recommend you give this a try throughout your work day, even if it’s just for a few minutes here or there.
11. Listening to ambient music whilst you work.
Depending on the work, I like to listen to meditation talks or classical film soundtracks on Spotify, it really helps and is totally worth the few minutes you might ‘waste’ Googling the film trivia. I love music - it sets the tone and really makes work so much more fun, it’s quite often Rihanna or best of musicals playlist (esp Les Mis!) or lately I’ve been really into Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead. Here’s to dance parties with yourself on one of your tea breaks, it’s only going to get your body moving, what’s not to love?!
12. Take care of your feet/knees/hips and heating! I don't have an adjustable office chair, so will often put a rolled up blanket under my feet to keep good hip/knee/foot alignment and I love to have a hot water bottle in the mix when it is even a touch chilly. It’s good to just scan your body from time to time, see which area might need a little help and make adjustments accordingly, it really is the ultimate in self-care.
13. Remember to streeeeetch. Going back to our suggestion earlier of taking short timed breaks, here is a program that you can use on your computer that will remind you to take a 1min break with stretches and movements - exercise videos included - it's very funny, and you can set the timing to suit your needs which is really helpful!
14. Go outside for a few minutes. If you’re feeling like you need a breath, just do it! Go outside or open your windows and get some fresh air in your lungs. When anxiety, stress or tension comes up this can be a really great way to just refresh. We love to do this at Team Shine, especially when it feels like you really really need to hurry and get something done, these can be the best times just to take a moment, and breath.
15. Look outside the window. I have my table positioned so that I can look out the window whenever I can, this helps to relax the eye, as by gazing into the sky you will relax the muscles that continue to strain while looking at the screen. Being a global team that loves to travel, there are always different seasons and different countries to look around at whilst we’re working!
16. Go chat with someone in real life. I find that the best breaks - along with the dancing - can be catchups with friends. Real life connections really do bring fresh air into the brain and sometimes even new ideas and solutions! It can be easy for us all to feel like there is always too much to do, but prioritising socialising with dear friends is always a good plan - just don’t drink too much or you’ll have a killer hangover and that’s never fun when you’ve got to work! (Ahem.)
17. Rely on your support network Speaking of chatting, invest in those who invest in you and by that I mean those group chats with your besties, your family, your partner, whoever it is that really gets you, share. We aren't designed to try and exist on our own, and (shout out to my fellow singles) you don't need to. Chat things through, get an accountability partner who sends you voice notes, it all helps.
18. Make time to switch off. Of course at the end of a busy day you want to sit and zone out to Netflix but what I've noticed really helps me is only having one screen at a time near me, so if I'm watching TV, I don't scroll through my phone. If I'm on Instagram, I have the TV off. It's a simple thing but it really helps my brain, my eyes and my mental health.
19. Block out your time. I cannot tell you how much time I have spent in my life learning what makes me more productive. It would seem that for quite some time I thought learning about being productive was being productive and so it went on and on in a vicious circle. It did however bring me to time blocking, my true love which helps me through everything. By setting a start and finish time each day I have a much healthier relationship with working.
I know as much as anyone how much our work days can feel like a complete time-crunch, however, it really does pay off to take a few moments throughout our day to just relax and prioritise our mental and physical health as well!
Do you have tips you'd add to the mix?
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