If you are a writer, chances are you do most, if not all your work at home. I know this because I am a full time freelance writer myself.
So, I am familiar with some of the pitfalls that come from working at home, especially sitting at a desk all day. There are other downsides to combat, such as interruptions and friends and family taking your work seriously. However, I think battling the pains and afflictions that come from being fairly immobile are a big concern. So, I am going to focus on those for this article.
If our bodies and minds are not in their best working condition due to our working conditions, it’s an easy fix. Read on to learn more about how you can take some minor steps in giving yourself the best possible chance for endurance, with minimal pain.
Take The Stress Off Your Back
Let’s talk a minute about proper posture and what the lack of it can do. Slouching and leaning is not a natural position for our bodies to be in, especially long term. However, it is a natural tendency for us to do it more than we should.
This will only lead to pains in the back, neck, arms, and even eye strain. Have you ever tried to work sitting in a hotel room, or someone else’s home without a proper setup? I have, and the pain in the end can be intense.
The good news is that there are some easy habits and tools that can help us do our best. Dr. Amy Grabowski, a Chiropractor in Virginia, suggests that we invest in a good lumbar chair. Now, it really won’t do any good if you just sit in it without paying attention to some basic good ergonomic rules.
She strongly recommends that we sit all the way back in the chair, with our backs fully resting on the back, and lumbar curve fitting in the lower curve of our back. The best way to do that is to make sure that the chair is up to the desk, with our arms resting at our side and a 90° angle when we work on the keyboard.
Our feet should also be resting on the floor to take pressure off our lower back. If you are on the shorter side, or your chair is not adjustable, place a box on the floor so your feet can rest on it.
Avoid The Pain In The Neck
Set the monitor at a level that you are looking into the middle of the screen, without bending your neck. I knew that I was supposed to be looking into the screen midway down, but I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I was bending my neck more than I thought.
It wasn’t until about a week of having a stiff neck at the end of each day that I knew I must be sitting differently than I thought. So, I had someone take a photo of me working at my desk…when I wasn’t expecting it. In other words, I wasn’t ‘posing’ for the camera. I was surprised to see the angle of my head and neck. I then placed the monitor on a couple books and took photos again, and the difference was incredible.
Protect The Wrists
One casualty of working at a desk all day is carpal tunnel. That is because, as a writer, we are at the keyboard, with repetitive motions…all day. Here are some ideas that can help:
- Wrist pad
- Split keyboard
- Correctly positioned mouse
All of these are designed to keep the wrist at a normal angle, and help prevent carpal tunnel, which is a painful ailment and an even more painful surgery.
Being fairly immobile, especially in a sitting position all day can also lead to some serious ailments such as blood clots. It’s important to get up and move a few times throughout the day. When you do get up, do some stretching to loosen up your muscles, and get your blood flowing again.
If you find it difficult to remember to do this, set a timer. It could even be in a different room, making it necessary to get up to shut it off.
You could also set your office up so you move around more. For example, place the printer so that you have to get up to run some prints. Or, put your phone on a charger where it would require you get up to use it.
Implementing these simple and basic steps can make a wonderful difference in your health, as well as your career. Keeping your mind and body healthy will make a big impact on productivity both on the job, as well as your life off the job.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Monroe freelances from home, and is currently writing a series of articles on ergonomics and back pain, with the assistance of a Chiropractor in Columbia, IL.