Working from home, the new normal

For many, working from home is the new normal. Whether you have a set office space in your home or you have turned your dining room into a makeshift office, working from home for some can be a challenge. How do you make it work? How do you balance life when you now have work and home colliding together? How do you prevent strain and discomfort while sitting for prolonged periods of time? A good start is to make sure you are comfortable and practicing self-care during the time you spend at your desk.

Making sure your workstation is set up correctly is important. This can be done by being sure that your chair and keyboard are set so that your thighs and forearms are parallel to the floor. Proper keyboard height will ensure that your wrists are straight and level. Your keyboard should also be close enough to you that you do not have to stretch forward to reach the keys. If you use a mouse, it should be close to your keyboard so you do not have to reach to use it.

Body position is also important in helping to prevent strain of long-term sitting. Sit in a way in which your hips, knees and ankle joints are slightly open. Be sure to keep your head aligned with your spine. Try keeping your arms close to your side when working on your keyboard. When using your keyboard keep your wrist relaxed and avoid having them bent up or down.

If possible, take several mini stretch and deep breathing breaks at your desk. Rest your hands on your lap or let them hang down beside you. Gently shake them, stretching your hands and fingers.

Practicing some quick chair exercises can also be beneficial. For the neck a few simple exercises include rotating the head from left to right, tilting the head forward and backwards, and tilting the head from side to side. Working the shoulders and back can be accomplished by doing such exercises as backwards shoulder rotations, holding the back straight for a few seconds, half torso twist from left to right, and overhead arm stretches. You can also work your lower body while sitting in your chair by doing knee raises, calf raises, toe curls and feet side tilts. As with anything, know your body and limitations.

If possible, change your lunchtime environment. Don’t eat at your desk, or where you have set up your work station. If weather permits have lunch outside, take a quick walk, or soak up some sun. Yes, working from home may take some getting used to. But since it must be done, it is a good idea to make sure we are doing it in a way that does not add any additional emotional of physical strain.

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