Winter is a tedious season for many people in a normal year, let alone amid the coronavirus pandemic. Living and working indoors in the same space day after day can be difficult, and especially around the holidays we may find ourselves navigating stress and anxiety that we would not usually experience. It is important to manage our stress and anxiety as it can lead to medical problems and poor sleep. Simple practices such as making a comfortable workspace, taking breaks, and staying active, can keep stress and anxiety at manageable levels until we can enjoy being outside again.
MAKE A COMFORTABLE WORKSPACE
Choose an area of your space to be your productivity zone. Keep this area clean and organized. When choosing a work environment, consider factors that may lead to discomfort, such as lack of back support and straining to view your screen, and try to avoid them if possible. Consider the following when creating your workspace:
- Choose a chair with sufficient back and arm support. You can also a place a pillow behind you to support your low back.
- Place your screen slightly below eye level to reduce tension in your neck and shoulders. Consider stacking a few books underneath your laptop to raise it to an appropriate height.
- Posture is important! Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed to reduce tension.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT BREAKS
In normal times, breaks are scheduled into our day, such as ten-minute breaks between meetings or classes and a lunch hour. When working from home, it is easy to forget to take breaks as we feel pressured to maintain productivity. Here are some rejuvenating tips regarding breaks:
- If you begin to feel stressed or tense, take a few minutes to stretch your neck.
- Abide by the 20 -20 -20 rule! Every 20 minutes look up from your work and look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is a good way to remember to take break, and it can also reduce eye strain, which may lead to headaches and discomfort.
- Keep your routine with a midday lunch break! Put away your work and take some time to relax or connect with loved ones. This would also be a good time to go on a brisk 10 to 15-minute walk to stay active.
It is hard enough to find time to fit exercise into our daily routine normally, and changes in our schedule can make this increasingly difficult. We are no longer able to attend exercise classes with friends or go to our favorite gym as easily. Additionally, we may be facing increased pressure from work or home life. Here are some tips to keep you moving:
- Take time to listen to your body! Your at-home workout does not have to be intense to see beneficial health results. Take 20 minutes to stretch out sore muscles, or use a tennis or lacrosse ball to massage tight neck muscles.
- Now is a great time try new stress-reducing activities in the comfort of your home. Practicing yoga can be extremely beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety. Additionally, incorporating breathing exercises into your day can induce relaxation and help reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
Be active in a way you enjoy! The most important thing of course is to have fun while being active. Choose an activity that brings you joy, try new things, and invite family and friends to join you… while practicing safe social distancing of course!
Are you feeling the negative effects of too much stress and tension? Our physical therapists at the Des Moines University Clinic can help. We are currently offering virtual appointments for patients, and are sharing our special classes and programs on our Facebook page. Visit the DMU Clinic website or call 515-271-1717 to learn more.