Saliva oozes from mouths, which hang slightly agape. Hazed over eyes stare lifeless into whirring “light” boxes. Backs unnaturally slump like old witches from children’s fairy tales. This is the scary description of how most of us look while working at the computer.
Humor aside – taking care of your body and engaging in proper posture, eating well, and participating in frequent breaks is of utmost importance when one spends long hours sitting at a desk, working with the computer.
Signs of improper computer usage are neck pain, burning sensations in the wrists, eye strain and tiredness, and many other symptoms which can ultimately impair computer usage and work – which creates a more stressful, uncomfortable work experience.
Keeping That Back Straight
Posture is one of the most important aspects of caring for oneself while working at a computer desk. Your feet should be planted flat on the ground – and not left loosely dangling like a small child at the kitchen table. A proper chair should be invested in to provide ample lumbar support – thus reducing fatigue in the neck and back. As fatigue is felt, naturally many people start to slouch – thus the old “witch” look.
Wrists should be kept straight while typing – to avoid any excess strain and bend while typing, which can ultimately lead to serious health complications such as carpal tunnel. While using a mouse, some prefer to use the entire arm to control its movements, rather then jerking it around using the side to side movement of ones wrists. Pounding the keys and gripping the mouse tight is also unnecessary – as it leads to fatigue, hand/wrist stress, nervousness, and convulsions. (just kidding)
What Would You Do If You Lost Your Eyes?
Reduce eye strain by maintaining a relatively similar light condition between ambient light and your computer screen. Overhead lighting that overpowers your computer screen can be bothersome, as well as bright computers blaring against a darkly lit room.
In my office I’ve positioned by desk to stand directly beneath a large window – looking out into the trees and nature surrounding me. During breaks, or every few minutes – I might sit back, take a peek outside, and stretch my eyes. This includes focusing on objects which are long distances away, shutting my eyes tightly, and looking side to side. Your eyes are muscles, and once again, blood flow is important. It’s also beneficial to have a window in your office where you can find inspiration for any current projects.
Breaks Aren’t For Weaklings Anymore…
Taking breaks is crucial in promoting a healthier body while working long hours at a computer. A practice that has served me well over the years is to take 3 breaks an hour – which translates into one break every 20 minutes. The break usually only lasts long enough to drink a glass of water, stretch, and rest my eyes, but it’s thoroughly rejuvenating. It’s important to move around – and maybe even do a few jumping jacks or stretching exercises – no matter how hilarious you might look sitting in an aisle of cubicles, practicing Yoga. Blood is the “life” of your body – so get it flowing!
Eat Right – Or You Might Need To Buy A Bigger Computer Chair
Lay off the baked goods, candy, soda, and fried foods – as they only promote gigantic effects. Pun intended.
If you were to visit my desk on any given day – you’d probably find a bowl of pretzels, plate of oranges, or cup of walnuts sitting beside by mouse. I’m an impulsive eater while I work, but I find that choosing healthy alternatives to junk food is, of course, much more beneficial to my body. Though many don’t know, eating six smaller meals per day is actually much healthier for your body than filling oneself with three large meals throughout the day. More information on this subject can be found via the Tasty Turmoil agriculture blog. One more note in the “food” aspect of computer usage – throw that soda away, and drink a nice glass of water once in a while!
Don’t make it easy to get your food and water. A practice that actually “forces” me to get up and take a break every twenty minutes is to place my water and snacks in the kitchen, since I work from home, which forces me to take a break when I am thirsty or need some food energy. Though I feel like a tricked puppy when I use this technique on myself, once again, it’s very important to take frequent breaks.
Sadly, Here We Conclude
Hopefully you’ve learned some more information regarding computer usage health – and that I’ve possibly inspired you to rethink posture, eating habits, and frequency of breaks.
For those of us that make a living using computers, sitting for long periods of time is a necessary evil – but with a little inspiration, motivation, and dedication, bad habits can be broken – and new ones can be taken on. All of which will ultimately help to bring a longer life, and more comfortable computer experience.
All in all – give your body a break!
Photo courtesy Ian Britton of FreeFoto.com.