The office has easily become the most common of workplace environments. It might not seem as dangerous as a construction site, an oil rig, or a factory. That’s because it’s not, of course. But it does have its own share of health problems. Besides tripping over someone else’s clutter, the effects of the office on your health can be minor annoyances at first, but they work insidiously to create real chronic health problems that can be hard if not impossible to recover from once they get past a certain threshold.
Deal with the stress
Let’s start by looking at one of the issues that almost everyone in an office can attest to having some experience with. Stress is very real and very common in the workplace environment. It can get in the way of sleep, raise your blood pressure, ruin your decision-making abilities, and just spoil your day, your week, even your whole month. It’s important to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard by taking on too much overtime or increasing your responsibilities too often. You should also look at the different methods you have to treat stress outside of the office. Meditation, exercise, even a hobby can all keep things at a more manageable level and compartmentalize the woes of the workplace.
Sleep on it
As mentioned, the stress of the workplace can get in the way of sleep. But so can staying on too late, or waking up too early. It’s important that you balance work and sleep well, by figuring out when you really need to be awake and getting to bed earlier, if need be. If you’re having trouble sleeping, then it can very helpful to start properly following a nighttime routine. This can involve avoiding any food for at least two hours before you go to bed, turning off all electronics half-an-hour before going to bed, even having a light exercise and stretching before you sleep. If you try to go from face-first to the computer screen or TV and straight to the bed, your mind is going to be active, distracting, and all-together uncooperative.
Get up and out
If there’s one thing that an office has in no short supply, it butts in seats. There are further risks to spending all that time sitting that we’re going to address at a later point. However, one of the most serious when it comes to your long-term health is the fact it can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Spending too much time sitting makes you a lot more likely to gain weight, for your muscles to shrink, amongst other issues. It’s important to find the opportunity to get up and out of the seat from time to time. If your boss needs someone to run an errand or you have the opportunity to stretch your legs to pick up something you need, take it. Otherwise, try incorporating some exercises you can do at your desk just to keep yourself moving a little more.
Watch your back
The other serious issue with spending all that time sitting is that it can be hell for the health of your back. If you don’t have real back support, it can lead to all kinds of spinal and back muscle pains that can be painful, temporarily debilitating, and even lead to chronic back pain. Make sure that any seat you use has ergonomic support and that your desk elevates the computer so that you don’t have to crane your neck to use it. You can even use adjustable or standing desks from manufacturers like Varidesk. Again, it’s much better if you take the time to get out of the seat from time to time.
Protect your eyes
Your back isn’t the only thing that’s going to be constantly under stress. In the office, we might spend more time than we should be looking at screens. These emit blue light, which can cause damage if we’re overly exposed to it, including eyestrain, dryness, and even vision deterioration. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to combat it. For one, if you need glasses, switch to varieties like Spektrum which offer anti-glare protection. If not, get a screen protector. Make sure that the environment is well lit, even if it just means having a warm light lamp next to the monitor. Again, take breaks from staring at the screen when you have the opportunity and avoid sitting too close to it when possible.
The R is for repetitive
Do you work at an office and sometimes wake up with numbness in the hand or wrist? Do you feel that burning ache after you’ve been in there for hours? Those are signs of impending repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel, which could mean that you’re not using your keyboard and mouse properly. Mind your posture at work, and try to keep your keyboard and mouse level with your hands, not above them. Otherwise, those pains could become a much more common occurrence in your life.
Fighting those germs
It might not be as serious or as long-term, but getting sick constantly thanks to the office can be a real pain and can lead to more sick time than you would like to take off. You have to personally responsible for your own hygiene in the office. Make sure that you are always in supply of two things: hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. Wipe down your desk, your keyboard and your mouse every morning, or every time someone else uses them. Use wipes on the handles of doors and the faucets in the bathroom. Eat lunch well away from your keyboard. Use quick drying sanitizer regularly throughout the day. You can’t stop others from getting sick, but you can give yourself the best chance possible of avoiding the same fate.
Just because it might seem like you have a cushy office job, you shouldn’t be negligent of your health and to simply assume that nothing is wrong with it. Be aware of the risks and make sure you’re taking the preventative measures you need to stop the office from slowly making you sick.