Last week a massage client and I were talking about a National Public Radio show called “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” She asked me, “Have you ever heard of desk butt?” Laurie told me she was sure she had it, since she was working 6 days per week at a desk job while working on a huge project. She went on to tell me about a segment from this hilarious NPR show that had a limerick about an actual term ‘desk butt.’ Apparently, scientists from Tel Aviv University had research to support that derriere muscles were shrinking due to inactivity.
I looked for the report and sure enough, this study existed. Apparently, other factors contributing to this problem was a lack of activity and poor diet. Muscular imbalance happens in the body after sitting at desk for a long period of time. The front thigh muscles, or hip flexors shorten in length. On the flip side, low back, and back side muscles get over stretched. Sitting for a great deal of time then results in muscular stiffness and pain.
The fact of the matter is sitting at your desk for a long period of time can take a toll on your health. Whether you work from home or the office, you can make choices to take care of yourself during the day.
Here are some tips to keep active and take charge of your day:
Stand up. It’s that simple. Time can fly when you have your head down buried in your work. Remind yourself at least once per hour to just stand up and stretch at your desk. Better yet, walk around your office. This will help get some blood flowing and regain your focus.
Bottoms up. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water during the day. The first thing most people reach for is coffee when they feel sleepy. You might actually need water instead. Watch the amount of caffeinated drinks, especially after 3 pm. Extra soda, tea or coffee can add to anxiety and the jitters.
Get properly seated. Does your desk chair fit you properly? Office chairs are not one-size-fits-all. Many cubicles contain the same size desk and chair. I have one client who is a petite 5 foot 4 inch frame that sits at an identical desk as her 6 foot male co-worker. Some work places have ergonomic teams to help assess the best desk set-up. Ask your supervisor about other desk chairs in the building there may be a right one for you.
If you work at home, having the right office chair is important as well. Home offices sometimes begin at the kitchen table. It’s important, however to get a desk and chair that meet your needs. It’s not only a business investment, it’s important for your health and well being.
Eat healthy. It’s easy to skip breakfast and grab food on the run when you are in a hurry. You quickly lose track of what fuel you put in your body during the day. One tip that I use is to cut up and prepare food before the work week begins. Try to cut up vegetables such as carrots, celery, peppers and place in small snack bags. Grab fresh fruit and prepackage nuts or trail mix. I bake chicken in advance to create easy lunches, too. Then you can grab healthy food on the go!
Take breaks. Value your body and mind by taking scheduled breaks during the day. Giving yourself space during the day allows you to fill your energy tank and deal with stressful issues head on. Do what relaxes you’re the most. Maybe it’s taking a walk or hanging with coworkers. You can also get away by listening to relaxation recordings to give yourself a mini-vacation.
What helps you stay healthy and take breaks during the day? Post your comments below!
6 thoughts on “Desk Work: Essential Self-Care Tips for Your Workday”
I was just reading something about this the other day in Oxygen magazine. Their recommendation was that you shouldn't sit for any longer than 20 minutes at a time without getting up and moving around for a couple of minutes. I'm really trying to pay attention to that because like you mentioned in your email, I can sit down at my desk at 8 a.m. and not look at the clock again until 2 p.m.
Hey Lena, it’s so easy to put your head down and work without realizing how much time has gone by. It’s awesome that you have added this to your day. Thanks!
I have to take regular breaks just as you suggest from sitting at my computer. If I don't I certainly know about it the next day! My neck is agony! I find even a couple of minutes stretching is good. Thanks Lisa!
Stretching really helps a great deal. Thanks, Carolyn!
It's so easy to forget to take regular breaks but now when my hourly alert goes off I take a wiggle break 🙂
It’s true! Setting a break alarm really works!
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