The past year has been a time of new norms: wearing masks, hand sanitizing and, perhaps the change that has most affected our lives, working from home (WFH).
The benefits of WFH are certainly plentiful – comfortable work clothes and the lack of commuting come to mind. But while many may welcome this new arrangement, it also comes with a number of drawbacks, namely pain from being inactive and sticking to your assigned workspace at home. A recent US study1 found that working at home increased the risk of musculoskeletal problems (particularly those affecting the spine) during the pandemic, with 36 percent and 50 percent of respondents being at risk of neck pain and spine, respectively. Suffered lower back pain.
If you find that working remotely was literally painful, here are three bad habits you may be guilty of – and the easy ways to restart your work routine for a pain-free WFH experience.
As tempting as it may seem, resist the urge to work from the comfort of your bed or sofa. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Your work ethic is not beneficial
Employees without a desk at home often have to be content with the dining table as a makeshift office space. Spending hours hunched over in front of the computer in these sub-ideal work environments can be detrimental to your health2 as it can lead to muscle and tendon strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and, in more severe cases, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis over time.
A conducive work environment is the key to maximum comfort while at the same time optimizing productivity. As difficult as it may seem, resist the temptation to work from the comfort of your bed or sofa! Invest in an ergonomic office chair with lumbar support and a table where you can view your computer screen at a comfortable height without lowering or straining your neck. Good posture is also important. To blame for sliding forward? Instead, sit back so that some of your weight is supported by the back of the chair and place your feet flat on the floor or a footrest. Avoid crossing your legs at the knee. Do some exercises like wiggling your feet and flexing your calves and ankles at regular intervals. This will cause your blood to flow, which in turn will reduce the risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.
Sitting in front of the computer for over 50 hours a week has left many feeling like the WFH is burned out. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
You spend too many hours in front of the computer
Organizations may worry about decreased productivity and efficiency as their employees work remotely. However, a recent study of 1,000 professionals across the Region3 found that around eight in ten respondents felt more productive working from home. The downside: 44 percent of respondents in Singapore said they worked longer hours – some even over 50 hours a week. Endless emails and endless zoom calls with little or no breaks can be detrimental to health – leading to stress, anxiety, tension headaches, and migraines.
Some lifestyle changes can help manage your stress levels and prevent burnout. First of all, try to limit the use of electronic devices (easier said than done, we know!). Experts recommend the 20-20-20 rule4: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes by looking at an object six meters away to rest your tired eyes. If not, invest in anti-glare screen protectors for your devices or blue light filter glasses to reduce eye strain. Plan longer breaks throughout the day to stretch your limbs, meditate, do breathing exercises, or make a cup of coffee.
Home workouts may be all the rage, but exercising too much can lead to sore muscles. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
You exercise too much (or too little)
Cabin fever is knocking you down? With hours spent at home, it’s no wonder that many turn to exercising to remove all of the pent-up energy – whether through online workouts, gym sessions, or long runs outdoors. The post-workout endorphins can feel good, but too much vigorous exercise can leave you feeling sore (also known as delayed sore muscles) or, worse, risk of injury.
On the flip side, working from home has also had another side effect – an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. Long hours in front of the computer have left many feeling unmotivated to exercise. The result: poor circulation, stiff neck and limbs and loss of muscle strength due to prolonged inactivity.
The simple solution here is to practice moderation. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week5. For fitness beginners, start small with light activities like yoga and brisk walking to build your stamina. As with any physical activity, warm up and warm up with light stretches to increase blood flow to the muscles and relieve any sore muscles. Most importantly, give yourself rest days between workouts so that your body can recover.
A pain reliever for quick relief
These tips and lifestyle habits can help improve your WFH situation. But for those moments when you need quick and effective pain relief, turn to TYLENOL®.
An iconic brand from the United States, it has been a trusted name for offering pain relief solutions since 1955. This best-selling pain reliever contains 500 mg of acetaminophen and provides fast-acting relief for mild aches and pains such as headache, fever, muscle and body aches, sprains and joint pain.
It is recommended that you take one to two tablets every four to six hours (and shouldn’t exceed eight per day). TYLENOL® already relieves pain after 15 minutes and is said to be gentle on the stomach – suitable for adults and children from 12 years.
TYLENOL® 500mg is available from the omni-commerce retailers Cold Storage, Giant, Guardian, FairPrice, Market Place by Jasons, Unity, Watsons and on the e-commerce platforms Amazon, Lazada, PandaMart, Qoo10, Redmart and Shopee.
This article contains general information only and is not a substitute for a doctor’s visit. Please contact a doctor or nurse for advice on health issues and if pain persists.
1 Psychology Today, 2021
2 Gleneagles Hospital, 2020
3 Video streaming is the new 2020 work norm
4 Computers, Digital Devices, and Eye Strain, 2020
5 health center