For many of us “who have found themselves working from home, with little to no notice, because of the coronavirus shutdown, there has been a lot to adjust to — creating a DIY office, figuring out how to exercise without access to a gym, and simply being stuck inside, all at once.
And while it may seem minor from a physical standpoint, that sudden change in routine and environment can be jarring your body, say experts.
“The body is incredibly interconnected and depends on multiple feedback loops or lines of communication to perform all of its normal duties,” Dr. Leah Welsh, an osteopathic family and integrative-medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life.
“This includes physical positioning, mental activity, emotional support and stress — everything that happens to and inside of us, the body keeps track.”
Your body gets used to having certain rhythms and routines, and relies on a schedule of sorts to function consistently, Welsh says. “These queues and rhythms are very different for a lot of us in this new stay-at-home chapter,” she says.
It’s not all bad, she notes — there are just a few common traps that can throw your body out of whack. Keep these points in mind.”
Furthermore, “If you worked outside your home before this, the lower-than-usual level of activity can be a jolt to your body. “A lot of us are not moving as much as we normally would — we’re not walking to work, walking from our car to the office, or getting up and moving around an office,” Dr. Jessalynn Adam, an orthopedist with Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life.
“The space between your home office and your kitchen is probably much smaller than it is at your normal work site. It’s very easy to move a lot less than you normally would in terms of daily activities.”
That can lead to a host of issues, including back pain, joint pain and muscle soreness. To combat it, Adam recommends getting up and walking around your place at regular intervals.
(You can even set an alarm to go off every hour or so to remind you.) Varying how you work can help, too, Dr. Arash Lavian, a physical medicine, rehabilitation and pain management specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Life.
“You want to limit how much time you spend sitting behind a computer,” he says. Lavian recommends creating a space where you have your own standing desk (a kitchen island or stack of books on your kitchen table can work), and alternating your working hours between sitting and standing.”
Additionally, “most office setups are designed to maximize ergonomics on the job. Your computer is (or should be) set up so you’re looking straight at it when you work and your office chair is supportive, all to try to keep you comfortable while you work.
At home, that can be a little trickier to pull off, especially if you’re using a laptop on your actual lap. That can lead to a hunched posture, which isn’t ideal.
“Having a scrunched, hunched desk posture typically causes an imbalance between the front of the chest, shoulders, ribs cage, and the back of the head, neck, and jaw,” Welsh says.
“I talk about this a lot with patients.” Adam says she’s spoken to many patients lately, via telemedicine, who say they’re struggling with the fallout of hunching over a computer. “I’ve heard from a lot of patients that they’re having more neck and back pain,” she says.
The goal is to keep your body in proper alignment and keep the right posture while you’re working. Adam recommends making sure that your computer is positioned high enough on your work area so that you’re not looking down at it, and that your knees are positioned at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
If you think of it, rolling your shoulders back a few times during your day can help too, she says.”
Nowadays, we are “not being able to go to restaurants, stores or basically anywhere else means you have a lot more time than usual to kill. That can lead to long stretches spent in front of your TV and on your phone — and that can be rough on your eyes.
“Prolonged screen time can increase symptoms of eye strain, dry eyes and headaches,” Dr. Carolyn Duong, an ophthalmologist at UCLA Health, tells Yahoo Life. “Computer strain occurs because our blink rates tend to decrease when using computers, which can also exacerbate symptoms of dry eyes. Using digital devices (like your phone) that are often angled or at various distances can increase symptoms of eye strain and glare.”
To keep your eyes healthy, she recommends increasing the contrast on your screens to try to reduce glare. Resting your eyes using the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds) can also help relieve eye strain, she says. And, if you’re dealing with symptoms of dry eye (which include a stinging, burning, or scratchy feeling in your eyes, watery eyes, and blurred vision, per the American Optometric Association), Duong says artificial tears can help.”
Other ways Working from Home Can Affect Your Body includes:
- You’re not wearing shoes
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