Posted: April 8, 2020 in: Depression, Health

BODY-MIND CORONAVIRUS ~ Kathi Fairbend

The Coronavirus pandemic guidelines for physical and social distancing have dramatically fueled the work-from-home movement. Employees have been told to stay at home and adapt their environments to working routine hours and producing quality results.

Working at home during the pandemic should raise heightened concern for individuals’ physical and mental wellbeing. People’s homes are not designed as workplaces and are less likely to have suitable equipment (including seating and lighting).  Work-form-home can also mean less camaraderie, unavoidable intrusions and increased stress over job security and work deadlines.

There are ways, however, to achieve the best possible home worksites, by focusing on sound posture to avoid physical injury and low mood.  Posture is the critical element of sound ergonomics. Posture affects mood, and mood affects posture.

Posture is dynamic, not static.  Posture is the dynamic state we use to sit, stand, walk, bend, reach, lift and exercise. When sitting or standing, it is important to use both sides of our body symmetrically. The spine must be centered over the pelvis, with the head held over one’s shoulders.

Ergonomics is the science of how a person uses equipment to produce work without injury or fatigue. There is no debate about this fact: musculoskeletal injuries, as well as low mood and depression, can be caused by poor workstations and work habits.

The workspace requires a suitable chair that allows a sitting position, with one’s hips way back in the chair—not perched on the edge.  For chairs with multiple adjustment levers, etc., one should sit over the chair’s adusting mechanism (again, that means way back in the seat).

It is smart to change positions frequently—at least every 40 minutes – even walking across the room, then sitting and repositioning. This creates postural awareness.

More reminders for a smoother work transition:

  • Use a worksurface that allows you to use your keyboard without reaching up and forward, or forward and down.
  • Position your mouse directly beside your keyboard.
  • Place the monitor at least an arm’s length away and positioned for your eyes to land in the middle of the screen.  This helps to avoid unnecessary neck movements.
  • Position yourself, the keyboard and the monitor in straight line.
  • If you are using two monitors, keep them level in height and angled to converge toward the middle.
  • Maintain adequate lighting.  The ideal position for a monitor is 90 degrees to a natural light source (like a window).
  • Clean your screen, keyboard, mouse and headset, frequently.
  • Clean your glasses whenever you wash your hands.
  • Try to create a standing position with the same principles as sitting. Avoid purchasing an elevated platform that sits on top of your sitting workspace. A desk with electric legs can be purchased, instead, allowing more adaptability to both the sitting and standing position.
  • Hydrate.
  • Keep healthy routines.

I hope this information helps as we all make changes in the wake of this pandemic.

Kathi Fairbend, MS RPT

Author, Physical Therapy and Ergonomic Consultant

Stand Up To Depression

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