4 Simple Ways To Take Care of Yourself When Working Long Hours
Most of us know the basic rules for ensuring we don’t cripple ourselves at our desks. The problem of course is that often we do not actually practice them. One recurring shoulder injury later, and I am realizing the value of a bit of pre-emptive action. The following are easy steps to take that will make a difference to your working life and help keep your body from withering away:
Invest in a proper, ergonomic chair or pilates ball
A good chair can be pricey, but if you’re going to be spending long hours at work it is worth the cash. A cheap chair equals back pain, no matter what your age. Consider how much you might spend on say a car and how much time you actually spend in a car vs sitting at your desk, in that context spending a little extra makes sense.
If a proper chair is out of your price range, why not try a pilates ball? Go to a fitness equipment store and get help choosing the right size for your height. They generally go from US$10 to US$30. You may only be able to manage sitting on a pilates ball for a small portion of the day at first because they really work your muscles, but if you use it regularly it will significantly lessen the risk of back pain (and work your abs – woo)!
Exercise your eyeballs
I, like most freelancers spend long hours in front of a computer screen. Logically our eyes were not meant to stare at a brightly lit flat object for hours a day, so we can get headaches, blurred vision, and generally feel crummy. To avoid this, try the following:
- Take a 10 minute break every 2 to 3 hours and look at other things. Ideally look at things that are far away and things that are close up. Try to position your desk next to a window so you can look out regularly.
- Keep your eyes at least 18 inches (45cm) from the screen.
- Don’t work in the dark or in dim lighting.
- Blink more often when you think about it.
- Roll your eyes when you think about it (preferably not at co-workers).
Exercise the rest of you
Make sure you get up every few hours and move around. Stretch a little – especially your neck and shoulders. You can find some simple exercises here that should make a big difference to how you feel at the end of the day. Dr Gillian McKeith – you might know her as that very healthy lady from British TV – has a mini trampoline in her office that she bounces on between meetings. I personally think this is a brilliant idea, and am planning on doing it (I’ll let you know how it goes).
Spend time with humans
Make sure you find somebody to talk to every day. Skype and email do not count. This is easy if you have a partner or kids nearby, but some of us live and work at home alone, so making time to see people is very important. If you can’t get out for whatever reason, call one of your clients about a current project rather than emailing them. Not only will it make sure you get minimal human contact but you’ll build a stronger relationship with your client.
So those are the things I’m trying to do to take care of myself during my (often long) work days. I’ve found it not only keeps me healthy but also makes me feel better throughout the day! If you have any other tips please share them in the comments…