You probably spend more time in the office than at home but are all those extra hours at your desk damaging your health?
It is estimated that at least one in every five office workers suffer from stress-related problems, ranging from mild anxiety to clinical depression. The longer your hours, the higher you risk from such diseases as high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. Additionally, technological advances have created new ailments such as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and back pain. If you're pushing yourself from dawn until dusk, snaking on convenience foods and not taking regular breaks, your body will age faster.
Chronic stress has seriously damaging effects. If your job stresses you out, your natural defenses are constantly on high alert. Stress hormones flood your body, and the buildup may have a wear-and-tear effect. Wear and tear goes deeper than feeling run-down. A high-pressure job can actually double your risk of a heart attack, and a recent study reveals that chronic work stress can be just as bad on your mental and physical well-being as smoking and not exercising.
Fortunately, your body goes through layers of warning signs before physical damages set in. If you feel constantly on edge, that in itself is your body telling you that you need to take a break. Left unchecked, that stress buildup can turn to anxiety and depression, making it harder to focus and eventually disturbing the sleep cycles you need to stay refreshed. Sleeplessness is often the first physical symptom of an overstressed life.
But many of us push past those mental and physical warning signs. Constant stress will attack where the body is most vulnerable, which explains why some people come down with repeated colds and flues (signs of a weak respiratory tract), and others get frequent stomachaches and ulcers (meaning the gastrointestinal system is weakest).
If prolonged stress goes untreated, over time it can make your hair fall out, your joints ache and even stop your period. It can also lead to severe depression and hypertension.
Your job is not your life
Don't let work rule your life. Set aside time in your diary for social events one or two times a week, and commit to them as you would any other project.
Deprive your body of food and you will suffer. At least have some soup, or grab a slice of veggie pizza on the go. Also, buy low-fat snacks, such as yogurt, dried fruit or nuts, that you can munch on to keep energy up throughout the day.
Take a break
Tension can build up quickly, so take two or three minutes every hour or two to relax. Get up, walk around, take deep breaths or stretch. People who take breaks are more productive at work and more satisfied with their jobs.
Ask for help
You may want to do everything yourself, but delegating will save you time in the end. The smartest way to oversee a project: Outline responsibilities, set deadlines and schedule periodic updates.
Work smarter (not harder)
If you regularly work longer hours than your coworkers, you may not be using your time wisely. Streamline tasks that stress you the most. Then, promise yourself that you'll leave the office every day at a certain time, or complete a project by a specific deadline, and do the best you can with the time you have.
Computer Related Health Problems
If you regularly use a computer for more than 2 hours per day; if you're overweight, diabetic or arthritic; have poor back posture; sit for long periods of time; and smoke, then you are at high risk of developing RSI.
Most of the time, the symptoms of RSI are so subtle and evasive that 80% of people who suffer from it don't even know that they do. In order to find out if you actually have it, refer to the list of most common symptoms:
The right placement of your chair, desk, mouse, keyboard, and computer screen will help make all the difference in the world when it comes down to preventing RSI. Follow these tips and free yourself of a lifelong struggle with pain:
The computer area
Keep your computer area organized. Items that you use frequently should remain close to you so you don't have to reach for them. Avoid stuffing things under the desk so you can stretch your legs.
Feet should touch the floor
If your feet don't touch the ground, lower your chair. If your chair can't be lowered or if it puts you in a position where you're looking up at your monitor, consider a footrest.
Support the lumbar area
Make sure your lower back is supported in order to help maintain the lumbar curve.
The monitor should be placed where the top of the screen is at eye level and directly in front of you. The distance between you and your monitor should be between 15"-30". Use the length of your arm as a general guide.
Use a document holder
Using a document holder near the monitor will help keep your head in a neutral position and avoid awkward straining.
Take breaks and shift your position
Shifting around can take the stress and strain off of tired muscles. Be careful not to shift yourself right out of good sitting posture. Mini-breaks with gentle stretching and exercise can make a big difference in how you feel.
Use wrist supports for the keyboard and mouse
Proper support of the wrists is important in avoiding excessive stress to the carpal region and wrist muscles (this is how one develops Carpel Tunnel Syndrome). Make sure the supports are comfortable and that there are no sharp edges. Arms should be relaxed and at about a 90? angle. If the keyboard is too high, consider mounting an adjustable keyboard tray.
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)
When an office has poor air quality, bad lighting or has excessive noise, it can cause an array of symptoms that include:
Try to ensure adequate ventilation, good lighting, have a few plants in you work area and close the door if it gets too noisy