Working from home carries a lot of benefits. You get to set your own hours, adjust your schedule to fit your life instead of the other way around, and you can choose where, and how, you work. Unfortunately, for many of us, that freedom can lead to some very bad habits. Writers and other computer based professions are particularly susceptible to developing back and neck problems due to a tendency to hunch over the keyboard, often for extended periods of time. If, like me, they spend the majority of the working day on the sofa with a laptop the problem can be amplified.
Good posture for pain prevention
Obviously, prevention is better than cure, and that means learning about posture. Ergonomics is the study of people’s workplace efficiency. For computer based working it involves looking at every aspect of your posture and movement when working. Of particular importance are the height and positioning of the screen, chair and desk. But ergonomics also looks at how you move your body while working, and external factors such as lighting. It is well worth reading up on the subject and taking some time to implement the recommendations. It might just save you a lot of pain.
Healthy habits and work life balance
Developing healthy working practices is essential, but it’s not one size fits all. You need to find what works for you. It’s important to remember that just because you’re working from home you shouldn’t be working all the time. Figuring out when, and for how long, you are most productive will reduce stress in the long term. And outside those times, stop. You are entitled to a life and the stress of overwork will exacerbate any back and neck pain. You need time to recover. During working hours, it’s still important to take regular breaks. Step away from the computer for at least 10 minutes of every hour. Maybe use this time to make sure you are drinking enough and eating healthily.
Stay active to stay healthy
Exercise is the other big factor for home and computer based workers. With no incentive to even leave the house some days, it can be challenging to fit exercise into a daily routine. It is also essential. Regular stretching during work breaks, including hand and finger exercises are a good start, but not enough. It is vital to get outside at least a few times a week, even a walk around the block is better than nothing. For those who work at home full-time an exercise class can be a useful social activity as well. Yoga can be particularly beneficial to strengthen the postural muscles and prevent neck and back pain.
But when the pain has set in
Unfortunately, it’s already too late for some of us. And when the back and neck problems have taken hold solutions need to be found. Some people find regular sessions with a massage therapist useful, but they are time consuming and expensive – and not everyone likes the idea of a stranger kneading their possibly not-so-toned flesh. One alternative to massage sessions is to consider a massage chair for the home. There are a huge range of options but sites such as Shiatsu Chairs can help you find the right chair for your needs.
The benefits of working from home outweigh any potential difficulties for a lot of people. The lack of commute, convenience and freedom are all powerful draws. With a bit of careful planning, and a little attention to detail, it is possible to ensure those benefits don’t come at the expense of your health. Working in pain is a guarantee of reduced productivity and lowered morale. You are your most valuable asset, so it’s worth investing a little time, effort, and money in looking after yourself.