Munear Ashton Kouzbari, a spinal health expert, offers tips on how to work from home without harming your health
According to the World Health Organization, social distancing and isolation truly are the best options for reducing the spread of the corona virus. So now, most of the world is working from home. But for those who didn’t have a proper work-from-home setup before, the need to construct an impromptu arrangement can result in severe bodily harm, including stiff neck, soreness, and tingling in the extremities. These are my tips, as a spinal-health specialist, to keep yourself happy and healthy while working from home.
Mix it up
While you may have spent most of your pre-pandemic days in an office or cubicle, one of the perks of working from home is that you don’t have to confine yourself to just one space.
Standing is by far the best option for your spinal health, so stack some books and set your computer on a kitchen counter, dresser, or shelf. Make sure your feet are spread to hip-distance and are planted firmly on the floor. Bring your arms to a comfortable 90-degree angle on the work surface.
Sitting is the go-to position for most workers. If you can, try sitting in the “perched” position, like on a bar stool. When using a “traditional” chair, pick something that allows you to sit comfortably in the upright position and lets your feet reach the floor. Make sure to maintain 90-degree angles throughout your body. As much as possible, engage your abdomen in supporting your lower back in the sitting position and keep your shoulders squarely beneath your ears.
If you choose to work from your bed, floor, or couch, put some pillows under your knees for support. Make sure your head and back are propped up as well. Put your computer on a lap desk, pillow, or thick book.
Take a Breather
In the office, you probably got up regularly to get water or coffee, to fetch some pages from the printer, or to get a snack. The same remains true when working from home. It is still important to take regular breaks, to allow our eyes and mind to refresh for a few minutes. Use the time wisely and responsibly. Even if you don’t physically step away from the computer, visit a website or social media channel that promotes restorative breathing and thinking.
Get the Right Light
The lighting in your work-space directly correlates to your levels of productivity. Dim lighting reduces energy, dampers disposition, and forces you to strain your eyes (which can lead to headaches and other problems too). Natural light is ideal. Open the curtains and let in the sun, if possible. Don’t set up a workstation directly under overhead lights. Make sure to get the light to the entire work area, while limiting glare, contrast, or shadows.
We don’t know how long this work from home situation will remain a reality. With these easy adjustments to your space, you can remain productive, comfortable, and pain-free for as long as this all lasts.