Create a Low-Stress Working Environment
[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]A LOW STRESS WORKING ENVIRONMENT[/typography]
If you want your work environment to be as low-stress as possible – both physically and psychologically, there are a number of things that you need to consider (and probably change). However, it is worth the effort. A low stress environment will help you eliminate some or all of the problems common to computer-based workers.
[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The physical environment is a good place to start.[/typography]
When your workspace that is not set up properly, it is a recipe for disaster. Both your health and your productivity can suffer. When you spend a good part of your life in front of a computer, the environment should protect you physically and psychologically as much as possible. Let’s look at a few ways to create a more user-friendly environment.
Muscle aches, eye strain, and repetitive movement injuries can all be avoided if you are willing to implement healthier practices in carrying out your routine work duties. If you procrastinate in making the necessary changes, you will eventually pay for your procrastination.
Obviously, if you work for a company, you may not be able to do much about your environment; but, a few small changes could improve the situation.
On the other hand, if you are the boss or are a one-man/woman office, be diligent in making the changes whether your office is in a commercial space or in your own home. Some of the changes involve your physical surroundings, but others simply require changes in the way you do things.
[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The right furniture and actions are both important![/typography]
Your office, cubicle, or work station should be tailored to fit you. Some people are taller and/or larger; others are shorter and smaller. The workstation should suit each individual’s physical attributes. If you are the only one utilizing your station then it will only have to be adjusted once to fit your body – build, size, height, etc. If you share your work station, hopefully there are mechanisms that will allow you to make adjustments to accommodate everyone who shares the space.
This is a fairly simple fix and can be purchased in various styles and sizes. Pick one that allows you to sit comfortably with your feet flat and well supported. Your feet should not be dangling in space, nor should the bottoms of your thighs be pressing hard against the chair seat.
Select an ergonomically designed keyboard to help alleviate the stress placed on the hands and wrists as you type. By allowing them the chance to relax in a natural position, you can prevent an injury that may result from poor hand and wrist placement.
Your mouse should be sitting at the same height as your ergonomically designed keyboard. It will provide for a more even, fluid transition between the two. When using your mouse, it is best to move your arm as a whole, not just your wrist. This will lessen the load that is placed on your wrist.
- Typing style
Do not strike the keys with unnecessary force. A gentle typing style is highly preferable. Typing is a obviously a repetitive task and should be carried out with the minimal amount of effort that is necessary to accomplish it. A forceful typing style creates unnecessary pressure on your muscles.
- Resting arms and hands
When you are not typing, you should rest your hands, fingers, wrists, and arms. Do not leave them in the typing position when you are NOT typing. Change to a different relaxed placement of your arms whenever possible.
- Alternate your typing with other activities as often as you can
This will help you avoid long stretches of uninterrupted typing and the wear and tear on your muscles that this can cause. Intersperse your typing with other unrelated activities. This facilitates the release of tension that builds up as a result of typing and its postural requirements.
The work space should be well organized and neat. Everything you use on a regular basis should be within easy reach. This prevents the need to constantly reach beyond your comfort zone for specific items.
- Leg room
Be sure you have plenty of clear space under the desk so that your legs have freedom of movement and you can stretch at appropriate intervals. Remember that you do not want to stay in any one position for too long. This is a habit that many people develop when working in front of a computer. They become so focused on the tasks at hand that they forget to move – very bad for your body.
- Stretch and move!
Change positions often – sit up, sit back, stand, stretch your legs and arms – get in the habit of exercising your muscles – stretch them, relax them, and engage as many different muscle groups as you can throughout the day. Stand up as often as you can. (Take a walk at lunch!)
Headsets are common for many people today – especially when business requires a lot of phone work. You may not think that one long phone call can be taxing; but, when this action is repeated continually throughout the day, the tension and awkward positioning can add up quickly.
- Static Sitting I cannot stress enough the danger in staying in one sitting position for long periods of time – it is not advisable under any circumstances. Break it up. Stand, move, wiggle, stretch, go for short walks – anything that will force you to change positions and avoid the problems associated with prolonged periods of static sitting.
Ideally your chair should be ergonomically designed so that it goes with the natural contours of your back. Your knees should be bent at a right angle or slightly wider. Your feet should settle squarely on the floor (or a footrest). There should be several inches between the back of your knees and the end of your seat. They should not be perfectly aligned. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor. There should be enough room beneath your desk for you to raise the seat of your chair until you are aligned with the end of the desk with a couple inches of space above your thighs before the desk begins. This can be a tough one, especially when you work for a company. The reality is that you take what they give you. So, do the best you can with what you have. Use a back support, a cushion, etc. – whatever it takes to position your body as ergonomically sound as possible.
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