With a volatile pandemic situation, work from home has become the new normal for many people. In this day and age, dining and tea tables at home have become work desks, while dining chairs and sofas have turned into office chairs. In the short term, the health impacts of the new norm are still tolerable, but in the long run, neck and shoulder pain and a sore wrist and back could easily happen if we have bad postures day after day, keep our head down and use our laptops for work or mobile phones for emails, or worse still, half lie down on a sofa or bed and read our documents.
A tech company surveyed 20,000 employees around the world who worked from home last year, and 71% of them said it had caused a range of health issues including headache, neck and shoulder pain, and sleep deprivation*, which were thought to be linked to the equipment as well as work-life arrangements of working from home.
Even though working from home can keep us away from the pandemic, it can equally cause problems for our neck, shoulders and wrist due to bad postures. Have a look at the following 3 remedies, to stay fit and healthy in the body and mind whilst working from home!
1. Make a timetable! Establish work-life balance
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many people probably thought working from home would make a comfortable life. But after this pandemic, when homes have been turned into offices, some may find their wish did not sync with the reality. This way of living, does not allow having a real rest during busy times and achieve a work-life balance, it also shortens the attention span and increases work hours massively. Some even have experienced huge physical and mental stress after being confined to their home for a long period of time.
As a matter of fact, this reminds us of the importance of clearly separating work and rest times and giving priorities to our work properly in order to avoid procrastination, which will in turn add to our physical and mental fatigue. By making a timetable, you can maintain your work efficiencies, and restore work-life balance!
2. Correct your posture! Remember the ‘Three 90 degrees’ rule
To work in a physically and mentally healthy way at home, the most important thing is to create a proper work space! Physiologists have pointed out that most home appliances are not cut out for office work, so dining or tea tables are shorter in height, therefore making many people work with a hunch back for long periods of time. On the other hand, if the dining table or chair is set too high, and lifts the feet above the ground, then it could increase the pressure to your wrist after a while. Also, you need to pay attention to where your computer screen is, if it is persistently lower than your line of sight, then it may put pressure on your neck.
Apart from managing your work space well, correcting your posture is also key to avoid all sorts of neck, shoulders and wrist pain. Remember the following three 90 degrees principle.
· Relax your shoulders. When placing your hands on the desk, it should make a 90 degrees with your elbow.
· Kneecap makes a 90 degrees with your legs.
· Buttocks and wrist make a 90 degrees.
If the desks and chairs at your home don’t fit the three 90 degrees rule, then you can make use of some additional equipment to correct your posture, such as putting a pad behind your back or under your elbow, or use a support frame to adjust the angle of your screen, etc. If the chair is too high, place a small chair below your feet to relieve the pressure on your back and wrist. To adjust the line of sight, you can use shoeboxes or books to elevate the screen level, and minimise the pressure on your neck and shoulders.
3. Timely stretching! Learn a simple routine
Even if you already have a good posture and the right equipment, sitting for a long time will still strain your muscles, and cause wrist and back pain. That’s why you need to take a rest in a timely manner even when working from home. Why not try the following two simple stretching exercises and alleviate muscle fatigue^.
Stretching and lowering your neck: Targeting neck pain
Cross your arms and place them between your legs, lower your head to your left and right side in turns, until you feel your muscles around your back and side of your neck are pulled, and hold it for 30 seconds, then slowly raise your head and relax.
Stretching your upper back: targeting strained neck and upper back muscles
Cross your arms and extend them forward, lower your head until you feel your muscles around the back of your neck, and your upper back body are pulled, hold it for 30 seconds, then slowly raise your head and relax.
Mastering these two routines can help you stay away from the virus at home, and avoid pains at the neck, shoulders and wrist brought by bad postures!
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