How To Get A Healthy Workspace
When spending lots of time at your desk, where you work and how you keep your workspace can significantly impact your overall health and well-being. Maintaining a healthy workspace is more than just clearing the clutter - but rather creating a comfortable environment free from distractions or pains. Without the disturbances of wrist, back or neck pain, there is room for your productivity to flourish. Here are a few simple tips to ensure your workspace is working for you.
Check Your Chair For Correct Posture
This first step should almost go without saying - but having your chair adjusted correctly does wonders for posture. Avoid positioning your seat too forward or too high, which can cause significant strains on your body. Instead, modify your headrest and backrest to support your movements as you work. Lower back support is essential, so if your chair lacks support, utilise a lumbar pillow.
Place Feet Flat On Floor
When spending long hours seated, it is tempting to move around to see what feels right. Crossing your legs may feel comfortable at the time; however, this causes significant strains on your hips. Your hips and posture will benefit from having your feet flat on the floor with your legs positioned at a right angle. If your feet don't reach the floor, use a footrest rather than lowering your seat. Ideally, there should be a 5-6 centimetres distance between the edge of your chair and the back of your knees.
Keep Keyboard and Mouse Close by
Your keyboard should sit directly in front of your monitor to avoid twisting around your wrists or neck. Your mouse and keyboard should ideally sit at the edge of your desk, allowing you to tuck your elbows into your side. If your arm is outstretched too far forward whilst using your mouse, you risk wrist, arm and shoulder injury. Instead, keep your wrists straight and lean on the desk. Palm supports can take the pressure off your wrists.
Adjust the height & distance of your monitor.
Your computer monitor should sit at eye level and about an arm's length away from your seat. If you are working across several screens, keep the primary one directly in front of you. The top of the monitor should be at or just below eye level to avoid the risk of neck pain or eye strains. Laptops can create issues for your neck and shoulders as the screen may sit low. Where possible, invest in an adjustable laptop stand that allows you to raise the screen to eye level.
A few more tips for a healthy workspace:
A healthy workspace needs good lighting. Natural daylight is ideal in an office environment because it is the fullest spectrum of light that includes all colours. Natural sunlight also provides the clearest visibility. If natural daylight is not accessible in your workspace, choose white light desk lighting. This change can encourage more focused work and best illuminate task-based areas.
Take regular breaks from your screen. Our bodies were not designed to sit for too long. A good rule of thumb is to get up every hour for about 5-10 minutes. Stretch and move around.
Hydrate - Keep a jug of water on your desk and drink regularly yourself a drink to keep hydrated.
If you are on the phone a lot, then consider using a headset. Avoid cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder, which can create tension in your neck and shoulder
Consider remedial massage to eliminate the long term effects of muscle tension and strains caused by unhealthy workspace habits.
Written by Rosa Ghidella
Director at Haberfield Health