• Rachel Gotlieb

Here are our tips for for working from home

Updated: May 26, 2020

Working from home has its ups and downs. It is something most of us desired more of. It provides greater life time-efficiency and environmental consideration, but in today’s current Covid situation we were propelled quickly into a period of home isolation and for some of us to continue with our normal work load, possibly with children around, but that is a different tangent. Initially it was a lovely novelty to be able to sit on the couch in our slippers tapping away at our key boards, or sit on our beds with a cup of tea and read our daily emails. Now four weeks in, you are probably looking at your desk set up in your lounge, or your dining table and wondering how you are going to make this work better for you.

Here are our tips for setting up well for working at home.

Desk ergonomics is designing your work place to fit what you need to be doing efficiently. When we use our bodies for long periods of time inefficiently we generate low level harmful causes called risk factors. Brief exposure to these do not generally cause any harm, unless there is already an underlying weakness in the area, but prolonged exposure to these factors exceeding the body’s ability to heal generates musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries. The main reasons for musculoskeletal injuries occurring over time is awkward posture, high force or long frequency and a combination of these increase the likelihood of pain.

So best practice to remind ourselves of:

Our arms should be at a right angle to our keyboard and our mouse close by. If you are a shorty like me this might mean placing a pillow on your chair to raise you up slightly.

Legs at a right angle to our hips and our feet touching the ground. You might need to place something under your feet to achieve this.

Your screen needs to be arm length from your eyes and where possible raised to where your eyes when looking straight ahead are inline with the top of the screen. If you are using a laptop at home this might only be achieved if you have the option of external mouse and keyboard attached and using your laptop as a monitor. Why is this such a problem?

The weight of your head rises with the angle of your neck. A study published in the journal ‘Surgical Technology International’ showed that if you are standing or sitting straight with your ears over your shoulders your head weighs 10-12lbs (4.5-5.5kg). But if you add a 15 degree forward tilt your head weights more like 27lbs (12kg) and a 30 degree tilt makes it closer to 40lbs (18kg). This is a great weight to be placing on your neck and traps for long periods of time.

Considering all of this what should we do.

Move!! Our bodies are not designed to sit for long periods of time in the same position. Every half hour do some gentle movements and exercises at your desk. Here are some easy exercises to do, hold each stretch for a few seconds and release 5x

- Chin tuck, pull your chin is as far as you can so it extends your neck and occiput region.

- Focus on lowering your shoulders and stretch your traps.

- Tilt your neck to one side lowering one ear towards your shoulder gently use your hand to bring this gently back up to neutral, do both sides evenly.

- Focus on trying to place the tip of each shoulder blade into your opposite back pocket.

- Pull scapula together and open your pecs.

Move your eyes. Long term focusing on a computer screen or device is not good for your eyes. Change your focus every 30 mins to exercise the ligaments and muscles of your eyes reduces digital eye strain.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the eyes pertain to the Liver energy and predominately Liver Blood. The Liver will regulate the volume of Blood in the body between rest and activity, and organise the Blood flow to the muscles when needed and nourish the sinews and ligaments. Overworking your eyes and body, accompanied with not eating well enough to nourish yourself and not getting good rest, can lead to Liver Blood depletion. This can been seen as postural dizziness, numbness or tingling of the limbs, general muscle weakness which can contribute to myopia (short sightedness), blurred vision, floaters in the eyes, dryness, and diminished night vision. It can also cause cramping muscles, weakness of the Sinews (tendons, ligaments and cartilages) causing repeated injuries. Women are more susceptible to Liver Blood depletion and a symptom of this is scanty menstruation or amenorrhoea, dull complexion, and dry and withered nails. Also it affects the mind sometimes making it difficult to sleep, or gives you vivid unrestful dreams and often because the Liver is involved waking at that dreaded 3am. It also affects your mind with your Liver being linked to the part of your mind which does your planning, having dreams and direction. When your Liver Blood is deplete you can often have too much “coming and going”, a tendency to have too many projects; aims and dreams but a lack of plans or a ‘scattered’ way to get there. Also there could be depression or aimlessness.

Liver Blood depletion is generally a chronic disease pattern. You might not have all of these signs and symptoms but only a few, but with chronic patterns you will need help to rectify this pattern. Acupuncture and TCM can aid your digestion to encourage better absorption of nutrients from your foods encouraging building of Blood, while freecoursing your Liver energy to smoothly distribute this to the entire body.

Other lifestyle aspects which can aid Liver Blood depletion is eating warm nourishing foods which are easy to digest, getting lots of rest and sleep, avoid using your computer or watching too much tv too late at night, get some good brisk exercise outside in the fresh air each day to keep everything moving and try and avoid as much stress as possible.

To summarise, during these trying times when working from home we highly recommend working at a good desk and having good practices. Get some fresh air each day to clear the head and get the Qi moving.Take breaks often to stretch, get up and get a drink of water. Look after your eyes!!

Not looking after your eyes can lead to Liver Blood depletion which affects how your muscles heal or what your muscles, ligaments and tendons can handle.If you are working in a precarious situation for long periods of time and you aren’t able to heal yourself from these external risk factors on the body you have the potential for injuries.

This time requires us to be flexible, adapt to changes and accept things that are beyond our control. Get creative, be kind and try not to stress the small stuff too much. As much as possible, remain grateful and calm. Stay safe everyone. Kia kaha, kia ora.

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