8 Ways to look after your body and mind whilst working and learning from home

With our current lockdown working and learning from home can bring a host of problems. In this blog we look at 8 ways to help with common issues.   

Sitting on a kitchen chair or sofa can cause back ache and shoulder pain.

Too much time looking at a screen causes burning, sore eyes.

And by the middle of the day you have a foggy head and severe lack of concentration and motivation.

You may be finding you are snacking more through boredom with no colleagues to chat with and it leaves you feeling lonely and overwhelmed.Or maybe you are feeling the stress of too many people all feeling bored, anxious and overwhelmed.

Here are 8 things you can do to help prevent and ease muscle pain, keep your mind active and relieve stress.

1) Bolstering while you sit 

We sit far too much and sit with a poor posture that leads to sore lower back and shoulders. Nothing worse than that burning pain and finding no relief. Rather than sitting on a sofa and causing more bad posture a simple technique is to bolster under your bum while you are sitting. This tips you automatically into a better posture relieving strain on your back and stopping you from hunching over your table.

You need to make sure the bolster (which can be a towel rolled up) goes under your buttocks so you feel your pelvis tipping forward – you’ll know you’ve got it right as you will find yourself sitting upright without having to use your lower back to get you there.

2) Movement Breaks

Stopping every half an hour to stretch and move for a minute or so will help more than you realise. Sitting still staring at a screen your body gets tired, you start to slump, your joints stiffen up and muscles get strained.

Getting up and moving will not only combat this but will also get your circulation going and stop that foggy head.

Set yourself an alarm as a reminder and for a fun way to get more movement you can have a jar with lots of different moves to do so you can have a lucky dip each time.

Moves can be as simple as stretching your arms, circling your leg, taking a walk round the room  to fun things like crawling across the floor or having a dance.

3) Chair, feet, floor  

Another way to get more movement into your day is to change your workstation. Changing from chair sitting to standing then to floor sitting and back again. This way you really use your body in different ways while you are working.

It doesn’t have to be fancy – kitchen worktop for standing and a box on the floor as your desk while you are floor sitting – and look at the different ways you can sit on the floor – that’s a workout whilst you work – can’t be bad!Again, set yourself an alarm or if you feel your body starting to tire or ache move to a different work station.

4) Eye breaks

While we are on movement breaks let’s not forget the eyes – burning, sore eyes and headaches, fuzzy vision are all a result of overworked eyes.

Your eyes have muscles that lengthen to see long distances and shorten to see close to. So if you are only looking at a screen you are over using the shortening muscles. Overtight/short muscles become weak and hey presto you need glasses or a stronger prescription.

Fight for Sight, an eye health charity recommends the 20-20-20 rule every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

If you can also make that looking out the window your eyes get a break from artificial light too.

 If you wear glasses then take them off as you look outside – glasses and contact lenses do stop your eye muscles needing to lengthen and shorten as they are set to look at a certain distance away. (the distance between the chair and the letter chart at the opticians) So giving your eyes a break from corrective lenses is also helpful. Or swapping contact lenses for glasses for a bit.

You could also try making the document you are reading on screen super big and try reading it without glasses to give your eyes a bit of exercise too.

Standing outside with eyes closed and facing the sun (if there is any sun) is really nourishing for your eyes.

5) Moving in meetings

If you are in non-video meetings you can always do these on the move – walking around your room or even – if your wifi is up to it walking round the garden. Walking meetings were becoming popular before the lockdowns so this is the same idea.

Walking meetings have been shown to increase creativity and your health so what’s not to love.

‘If there is something I just need to listen to rather than actively participate in, I often stand up and do something physical like folding washing or bouncing table tennis ball’

6) Lunchtime walks

it can be really easy to just plough through the day and realise you haven’t stopped once. Making sure you stop and get outside for a walk at lunchtime not only breaks up your day but gives your eyes a break, gets your circulation going and gives you a break from artificial light.  

It’s not always easy especially in the winter but this is where a bit of discipline comes in – you know you’ll feel better afterwards and you will also work better afterwards. If you have a busy household all off school and work then getting out together for a bit of fun and a chat can ease tensions aswell.

7) Loneliness

Whether you are used to working with other people or not loneliness can easily creep up on you. We can’t get out to socialise and days become Groundhog Days. Luckily we have technology that can help with this.

I’ve found co-working particularly helpful – especially being a WAHM. I have a networking/mastermind group and there is often someone who is after co-workers we have Zoom on while we work so when you look up there is someone there on screen. It does help a lot – not just for company but for motivation and accountability too.

If you’re used to meeting up with friends for lunch maybe a zoom or facetime meet up could be an option – a chance to have a chat and laugh and break up the day a bit.

8) Boredom eating

Oh yes! So easy to just snack and snack and snack. It leaves you feeling just generally discontentedly full and doesn’t help with keeping your mind focused.

– Make sure you stop for meals – don’t eat at your screen, so you feel full.

– Eat and drink mindfully – take time to look at what you are eating and drinking, observe the colour and texture. Then take time to enjoy the aroma. Take one bite or sip and really allow yourself time to just experience the taste and texture, feel the flavours in your mouth and chew slowly.

– Drink water or herbal tea instead of having a snack – sometimes you just need the action of putting something to your mouth and having something in your belly. A drink can be a healthy alternative to a biscuit!

– Brush your teeth – you won’t want to eat when you have a tingly fresh mouth.

– Go for a walk or do some exercise

– Chew some gum

The key takeaway is to move more, move more often and move away from the screen when you can. We are used to ‘not wriggling’ and it is an ingrained habit to sit still and finish what you started– couple that with long, long days especially for children and little importance placed on play and movement we have a recipe for chronic aches, pains and injuries.

Learning to be creative with how you get more movement – finding different positions to work in, taking short breaks, even moving while you work will all help to keep your body and mind healthy, anxiety to a minimum and keeping better relationships with those around you.

If you’d like to explore more ideas for exercises and stretches in your movement breaks you can check out my Movement Breaks programme which has 20 different exercises and movement reminders. Click this link to learn more.

Rosie Dhoopun is a Pelvic Floor Restore Coach, Movement Teacher, Pre- and postnatal exercise specialist, babywearing consultant, massage therapist, Birth Art Mentor and trained in a variety of postpartum nurturing techniques

She runs classes for groups and individuals and has a range of online courses available.

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