For those of us who are desk-bound at work, the state of our office can have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing. After all, we spent the biggest part of our day there and studies show that even if a few small aspects like the angle of a chair or height of a computer screen are wrong, there can be long-term consequences.
Here are six common office mistakes, and how to fix them: Mistake one: desk set up
There’s no denying that our sedentary lifestyle is playing havoc on our health, in part because few office workstations are set up correctly. One of the most important rules to adopt today is to keep your joints at 90 degree angles. That means feet flat on the floor (adjust your chair to avoid crossed legs), thighs parallel to the ground and wrist resting straight to avoid strain.
Michael Stone, founder of Holistic Services Group, says there is no doubt that prolonged sitting can lead to pain, stiffness and poor posture. Researchers have also linked excessive siting to an increased risk of heart disease. Stone believes we should try some simple office exercises to get our blood pressure moving and avoid health risks. One exercise he recommends is the ankle extension where, from a sitting position, you hold your leg out straight, hovering it off the floor. Then point your toes up and down. Repeat three to five times, before moving on to the other leg. Mistake two: eye line
Staring at a computer screen for hours on end can be damaging to our eye sight but there is a way you can set up your computer to avoid strain. Adjust your screen height so the top is in line with your eyes. This will encourage you to sit upright and have full view of the screen without hurting your neck.
It’s also important to take breaks from looking at your screen to avoid dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches. Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer to the other side of the office for 20 seconds. Mistake three: deadline stress
Stress has been linked to myriad cardiovascular problems, among them high blood pressure and heart attacks. While it’s easier said than done, it’s important to find some distress solutions that work for you. Effective remedies include meditation (free, simple and it can be done anywhere), time outdoors (sunlight and being surrounded by nature have a host of benefits) and regular exercise. Workplace psychologist Kathryn McEwen recommends holding the occasional “walk and tale” meeting outside to stimulate both mind and body. "Fresh air and natural light instantly makes us feel more awake, while quick strolls boost energy."Mistake four: office germs
With so many people confined to a small space for hours on end, the office can be a microcosm of germs if not cleaning regularly. Surprisingly, half of workers admit they clean their desk once a week or less, leaving it open to germs which can live on hard surfaces for hours. What’s more alarming, a recent study by the University of Arizona revealed that the average desk harbours 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.
So what can you do about it? Avoid eating lunch at your desk, if you’ve got a cold sneeze into a tissue and always keep spray and wipe handy and in your line of sight to prompt a quick wipe-down at the start of the day. Mistake five: email addiction
There’s pressure to be available 24/7 when you work in a demanding environment but keeping your phone switched on while you sleep might impact your quality of shut-eye. A study has found that lights left on in bedrooms, such as those from a charging laptop or blinking Blackberry, trigger wakefulness. Skimping on sleep can lead to a host of health problems like weight gain and heart trouble so make sure you switch off devices before you hit the sack.
McEwen reminds us: “Just because you have the option of always being connected doesn’t mean you have to be.” Mistake six: working overtime
You might feel like you’re getting ahead by working extra hours but a study suggests it could be hazardous to your health. In a European study, workers who clocked more than 10 hours a day had a 60 percent higher risk of heart-related problems than those who only worked their allotted shifts. Rather than see your hours as flexible, work on prioritising three tasks per day that are absolutely important. Switch off email alerts so you’re not easily distracted and can keep your mind on the most vital tasks. Related content:
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