Are you finding that you are sitting at your desk even more during this virus situation?
I have had a home office for the past 20 years, so having to stay at home hasn’t changed much for me in regard to my working environment. What has changed, though, is how much I am at my desk in my home office. Before this time, I had more variety in my day, meetings with clients, running errands, networking events, and other meetings outside the home. Now, all is completed at my desk, no need to go anywhere, well – not able to go anywhere.
Do you, like me, get caught up on your work and lose track of how much time has passed without you moving? After all, for most of us, sitting is now the new smoking. Our bodies are not created to be in one position for hours on end, except for sleeping, which is a different topic. Yet, especially during this pandemic, we are all sitting more. We don’t have to get up from our desk and attend a department meeting. Instead, we just hop on a virtual meeting. Networking is now in virtual meetings. And running errands, well, we look to have as much delivered to us, so we don’t have to venture out.
The office landscape has been changing over the past few years, and with the current situation, we are all experiencing more ourselves how sitting for long periods has a toll on our bodies. We discover some new soreness or tension in our body that didn’t exist before. This occurs due to prolonged periods of sitting in the same position and working with incorrect posture. How can we change this so our new aches will go away? By taking more breaks.
I am not speaking about coffee or bio (bathroom) breaks; those are separate. We are discussing taking a short break to move your body. Here are some simple techniques you can implement throughout your day so your body will love you now and far into the future.
1. Hourly – yes, stretch for one to two minutes each hour. This helps to break the habit of staring at the screen and add some movement. I am not talking about calisthenics, running in place or jumping jacks (those don’t excite me either), what you will want to do are some simple stretches. You can search the internet for many examples, although here are some suggestions.
a. Stand up.
b. Stretch your arms over your head, in front of you, just move them to get them out of the bent – keyboarding positions.
c. Yoga stretches are great for this.
d. Stand up and lean or stretch to each side with an arm overhead.
e. Get creative, do a little dance if you like – this will also help your attitude.
2. Set a timer – we aren’t used to taking a quick break for ourselves; instead, we are in the habit of plowing through our work. Set a timer to go off every 60 minutes to remind yourself to move. If you are like me, you get entranced in your work, and the next thing you know, three hours have passed. With all the tech options available to us, this is easy. Set it with your computer, an app on your phone or go old fashion with a physical timer.
3. Stand – instead of sitting all day, do some of your work standing. There are many great options available on the market. The electronic sit to stand desk is the best and simplest. There are also ones that will sit on top of your desk that you can move up and down. You can also create a separate standing desk or area where you can move to and work. Get creative. If you aren’t used to standing, start by standing for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. You can set a timer for yourself, so you stand for at least that amount of time. As this becomes a habit, you can increase the amount of time you stand.
4. Perch – this is in-between sitting and standing. There is a great variety of “perch” chairs on the market you can use. These will have you resting in a different position throughout the day, and remember, your body likes movement and will thank you for it.
Working in the contract furniture industry, I have all the tools and furniture options in my office, yet I, too, need to set myself timers and set goals to move more. We are all creatures of habits, yet the habit of sitting for long periods does not serve us well over time. Let’s get moving!