Self care when working from home is often overlooked.
Women who work from home are increasingly oblivious to their own health and safety. We work for long hours, usually seated, whether at a computer or making things. We forget to eat regularly and healthily and forget to get up and move around.
Well, I do anyway.
We end up hunched over our desks for hours upon hours each day and soon find ourselves struggling with backache, shoulder, arm, hand and even finger pain!
I have regularly been a victim of this myself so recently I decided to undertake a health and safety audit. No, not of my business, but of myself.
After deciding to review my self care when working from home and undertaking my health and safety audit, I decided to invest in a few items to help me take care of my own health and safety in a more proactive manner.
Items to help with self care when working from home
Firstly, I set up my Garmin activity tracker. As most people know, activity trackers do what they say on the tin. They record your activity during the day. After you have been online and put in a few details about yourself, it sets you a daily goal to ensure you undertake some physical activity during the day.
This can vary from jogging for an hour, walking for a couple of hours or up and on your feet doing light housework for 7 hours (really!!). It also counts the steps taken in a day and calories used.
The key bonus for the one I have is it sends an alert when I have been sitting inactive for too long. The fatal flaw with some activity trackers that I had in the past was that whilst the alert flashes on the wristband if I was wholly engrossed in a piece of research or sat on the phone, I didn’t see the flashing. Therefore, I made sure my most recent purchase vibrates to make me aware of the alert.
When wearing my activity tracker, I am so much more aware of my daily activity levels and keep checking to see how much more movement I have to do to reach my goal and to get the ‘fireworks’ going off on the display when I have reached my target (small things please little minds).
If you don’t have an activity tracker to wear on your wrist there is a fab little program you can install on your computer called Workrave. As their site states, Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit.
When I installed this program a while ago, I was amazed at how quickly the time goes by when working on my laptop and how lapse I was in taking breaks previously. The fun, but very useful, part of the app is that on the longer breaks, it gives you a set of exercises to do. (check out my article on some fun office exercises)The break lengths are pre-loaded but these can be customised to personal preferences. I can certainly recommend this one. And even better, it is free.
Ergonomic office chair
My third purchase has been a decent ergonomic office chair. When in employed work, I had always managed to find a chair that suited my back but when I started working from home, I have made do with an old chair that I had, as so many of us do.
As the days and weeks went by, so my lower back pain increased. And therefore I decided to invest in a decent chair. And what a difference it made. After the initial fight of having to put it together myself, once constructed, I took a seat and wow! What a difference. My back was firmly hugged and supported. Could this be the start to pain-free work?
Ergonomic keyboard and mouse
If you spend a lot of time typing, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse can be super helpful in avoiding RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome. They can help relieve arm and wrist pain and help support your posture.
Yes, they can take a bit of getting used to but persevere and see what a difference they can make for you. They are designed to support your hands and wrists and take off the pressure when you are working for long periods of time.
I swear by my Microsoft ergonomic keyboard.
It’s slightly bulky if you have a tiny desk but in my opinion, it’s the best I’ve found. If you’re looking for an ergonomic mouse there is a huge range to choose from. Prices vary hugely and there are a variety of colours. I personally use a low-cost wireless Tecknet mouse that does the trick for me.
How about you take a few minutes out of your day to assess your self care when working from home. Take a close look at how you work and become aware of what action you may need to take to protect yourself from aches and pains and the detrimental impact to your health when sitting for long periods and not moving.
If you were the MD in a large corporation you would want your staff to be comfortable and protected in order to do their job to their best ability wouldn’t you? So do the same for yourself.