Working from home - Has this become your new normal?
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
For many people working from home, which was initially imposed on them due to Covid restrictions, has now become a way of working that they have chosen to continue. At Emma Kenny Massage Therapies, we have seen an increase in the number of people who have embraced this change and are finding that a home working environment is having both positive, and some not so positive, impacts on their wellbeing. Here are a couple of things you might find helpful if you’ve decided to make this change to your working life.
Your daily commute
If you are working from home, your new commute is now probably just a few steps to a room in your house. You might normally have cycled or walked to work or at least got some fresh air between the house and car. Having time in the morning to get a little bit of incidental exercise and head space can be invaluable. You might find it helpful to add a small “commute” around the block to the start off your day or a short exercise session; both to get the blood pumping and clear your head before the day begins. It’s also helpful at the end of the day to give yourself some time to get your mind out of work mode, and into home mode.
Keeping work and home separate
It’s important to be able to switch off from work at the end of the day, which isn’t so easy when there are constant reminders of work in your home. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare room to use as a working space that’s fantastic as you can close the door on it at the end of each day. If you don’t have so much space, there are still things you can do like packing away or covering up your laptop, monitors, and paperwork, returning the room to a place of rest rather than work. Tidying everything away also helps you rest properly, rather than having reminders of any work stresses.
Make yourself comfortable
Make sure your desk is set up to help you maintain good posture. This will help to prevent aches and pains associated with desk working.
Things to consider are:
The height of your chair. Try to get a chair that is the right height for you to keep your thighs parallel to the ground and feet flat on the ground. If that’s not possible you could experiment with putting a pile of books under your feet or add a cushion to sit on.
The height of your monitor. Try to raise your monitor so that you are looking straight ahead to take pressure off your neck and upper back. You can do this again by using books or boxes to raise its height.
The position and height of your keyboard and mouse. Your arms should be at right angles, so you might need your keyboard to be much lower than your monitor. Having a separate keyboard or monitor makes this much easier than using the keyboard and monitor on your laptop. You also want to make sure you aren’t having to reach too far for your keyboard or mouse so that you can maintain a more upright posture with your arms relaxed by your side.
If you can, try and keep your workspace as uncluttered and as pleasant as possible.
Get some light
We all need natural light to help improve our health and mood, so it’s a good idea to have your desk set up next to a window and don’t forget to let in some fresh air, especially if you are struggling to get going in the morning or are feeling sleepy and sluggish after lunch.
Keep the blood pumping
Some of you might be wondering why you’re getting so cold while working from home. The reason is simply because you aren’t moving nearly as much as you would during a normal day in the office. You don’t have to walk to the photocopier, you aren’t walking to the meeting room, you aren’t walking to a colleague’s desk, you might not be even be walking as far to make or cup of tea or visit the loo! Those little bit of movement throughout the day help keep your circulation going to keep you warm. So why not take a break every hour to walk up and down the stairs, or do a quick lap of the garden.
Add some social time
Working from home all the time can be lonely, especially if you’re deep into a project or piece of work, so not even having any video calls during the day. Try to add some social interactions during the day or in your evenings to make sure you’re seeing people, or if you’re working in a hybrid office, spread your days in the office out during the week so you get some real face time.
Stretch it out
Another way to get moving regularly through the day and reducing the strain on your body from sitting at a desk that might not have perfect ergonomics, is doing some stretching at different points. A good way to remember to do this is to combine it with another activity like making a cup of tea.
A lot of people end up with pain and tension in their upper traps as their shoulders get closer and closer to their ears! This tension can also start to refer pain to your head leaving you reaching for the paracetamol. A great stretch for your the upper traps is to sit on one hand while using your other hand to apply gentle pressure to move your head away from your anchored shoulder.
It is a good idea to stretch out the pectoralis muscles across your chest to help reverse the
closed body posture that most people end up in when at their desk. When we adopt this posture
it can cause pain between your shoulder blades. Opening up the chest also has the added benefit of reducing some of the physical sensations of anxiety. To stretch out this area stand in a doorway with your forearm along the door frame and step through the door. You can do this with one or both arms along the door frame.
Most people end up sitting in a C shape while at work, which puts a strain on your back and compresses your internal organs making digestion sluggish. The cobra stretch is a great way to reverse this position and stretch out the front of the body. You just need to lie face down on the floor and push your upper body up with your arms while keeping your pelvis and legs on the floor.
You can really alter the energy and feeling in a room by changing the way it smells. You might like to try diffusing some essential oils in your workspace. You can do this using a diffuser like an Aroma Stone or you can simply put a drop on a tissue to inhale.
Essential oils that I’d recommend for improving your energy levels, clearing a foggy mind and uplifting your mood are:
Lemon (Citrus limonum)
Grapefruit (Citrus paradise)
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) – Avoid using if epileptic
Euaclyptus Radiata (Eucalyptus radiata)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
If you find you are struggling with aches and pains from working at your home desk, or you need help letting go of work stresses, then why not try one of our treatments here at Emma Kenny Massage Therapies. We love nothing more than melting away your physical and mental tensions and then watching you float out of the door.
Why not visit us in our cosy, Cambridge treatment rooms. Book now to discover the benefits for yourself!
Written by Nicola Leighton, Senior Associate Therapist at EKMT