Managing the Pains of an Office Job
Quick, which do you consider a worse fate—extreme boredom at work or physical pain from sitting all day at work?
Boredom can feel mentally painful. Sitting, potentially with poor posture, all day can lead to physical pain. Both things will sap the energy you need to do your work. Must we split hairs?
No, we musn’t. We’ll only split the topics here to help you attack them to feel more productive and healthy during your daily 8-plus hour stint.
Combating the Mental Pains
We might face a number of mental or emotional challenges at work that can range from too big a workload to complicated interpersonal relationships. Sometimes the boss goes overboard establishing unrealistic deadlines. Sometimes our cubicle partner is, well, annoying. Sometimes we’re bored.
Science tells us that everyone gets bored and boredom usually presents itself as a sign to get moving. So, when you hit a rut, think: How can I jumpstart my brain?
Start with personalizing your workspace with photos or something you can play with during a break. Volunteer for a new project. If you’re unfamiliar with it, your brain will get a boost while adapting to something new. Men’s Health offered great suggestions—work in 60-to-90 minute blocks and take a mini mental break between each block to break up your day.
Being bored at work isn’t just something you should just accept deal with. Chronic boredom can be a symptom that something else may be wrong: According to Psychology Today, it can increase someone’s risk of drug or alcohol addiction or compulsive gambling. In other words, don’t ignore boredom. Examine the causes and get help if you must.
Working Out the Physical Pains
When you sit in front of a computer and/or at a desk for most of your day, you may get stuck in a literal and painful rut. From repetitive motions to poor posture to just being sedentary for too many hours in the day, there are plenty of ways for us to break out of it and feel better.
The Mayo Clinic generated this concise guide to sorting out your workspace and making it ergonomically efficient. (Pssst. Ergonomic means “relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.”) One simple tip: Keep anything you use regularly (stapler, mouse, tape, pens) on the same level as your keyboard. They cover chair height, equipment space and proper posture whether sitting or standing at a desk.
Also, the act of maintaining proper posture requires the same approach whether you are at play, work or sleep: Head up, shoulders back in a neutral position, core engaged, spine aligned. If you’re hunched over at work all day, that may be because you need to strengthen your core. If you wake up with back pain, you’re likely sleeping in a way that throws your spine out of alignment, just like the hunching does when you’re seated.
Fixing the hunch
The first would require a workout routine to strengthen your core muscles. WebMD offers this exercise do’s and don’ts guide to strengthening your core. The second might require taking a hard look at how you sleep and where you sleep. It doesn’t matter if you sleep on your back, stomach or side, your spine needs to rest in a straight line. Any deviation from that line will lead to aching muscles and trouble sleeping.
Improving your sleeping posture for a healthy spine
When the CDC says one-third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep, we need to do a better job prioritizing sleep. The majority of people sleep on their sides, and though it’s a popular position, it’s not always the best for your spinal health. People who sleep on their sides need a mix of contouring for their shoulders, hips and thighs, and support to keep their spines aligned. Without both, they end up sleeping with their spine in an unnatural position and causing damage.
Surviving the Office Life
In the technological age, we do so much work without moving at all. We are not hunter-gatherers, constantly on the move to survive. We can attribute a loss of energy, getting bored or feeling aches and pains to how we approach our work and how we hold ourselves up during the work hours.
We needn’t accept that fate. We can regain energy, find ways to strengthen our bodies to combat pain and fight boredom. It just takes a little bit of new thinking.
Oh, look at that! Do you know that forcing yourself to think about old things in a new way may also combat boredom?
We’re full service here. Go get ‘em.