Have you ever wondered why desk workers appear to be so tired all the time? It’s because modern professions continue to evolve at such rapid speeds that their bodies and mental capacities have not yet caught up, and this is gradually wearing people down. Sound familiar? Then use the following list to build awareness of the potential health risks within your office job, and then make the suggested changes before it’s too late.
1. Lack of Sunlight
As you spend the best hours of the day trapped inside the walls of your office, you are being deprived of the sun’s essential rays. This not only reduces the production of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness), but it also softens your bones due to the lack of vitamin D. If this is a concern, look into some supplements or purchase a SAD light to bring the sun to you.
2. Spinal Stress
In moments of heightened concentration, people tend to hunch over their desks and lean into their monitors, which can result in back or neck pain. You need to remember to sit up straight, stretch often, and take regular breaks to stand up and move. If you have particularly bad posture, try swapping your desk chair for an exercise ball and reduce muscle swelling at home with a heating pad.
3. Risk of Bacterial Infection
When you confine a large group of people in one place, germs are inevitably going to be exchanged in a multitude of ways. Your keyboard and mouse are known as a breeding grounds for bacteria, but these danger areas extend far beyond the obvious and can include door handles, elevator buttons, and even the copier or coffee machines. Poor ventilation is also a concern, as you end up breathing one another’s stale air. Always keep some antibacterial gel on your desk and stay at home if you’re feeling unwell.
4. Eye Strain
No surprises here, but staring at a screen all day is a nightmare for your eyes and can cause headaches, blurry vision, and itchy eyeballs. Your best defense here is to lower the brightness of your monitor, ensure the room is well-lit, and set an alarm which reminds you to look away from your screen every 20 minutes, focusing on something else in the distance.
5. Lack of Sleep
A fast-paced office job often comes with an interesting combination of dangerous factors which rob you of sleep, such as an excess of coffee, working late into the night, stressing about deadlines, the lack of sunlight disrupting your natural body clock, and your screen’s backlight zapping the sleep hormone melatonin. This reduction of slumber can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and anxiety, so go to bed on time!
6. Repetitive Strain Injury
RSI is the term for when your ligaments make so many tiny repetitive movements on your keyboard, that eventually your tendons and nerves become damaged. This can lead to the infamous carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful medical condition which could prevent you from working at all. Ensure your desk position is comfortable and natural, take plenty of breaks, and stretch tired muscles with a stress ball.
7. Weak Blood Circulation
Obviously, the less you move, the worse your blood circulation will be, which comes with an extensive list of ill side effects including fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, dizziness, heart disease, strokes, and even death. Your boss’ scorn is nothing compared to a fatal incident, so get up and walk around for five minutes every hour.
8. Weight Gain
Participating in all those birthday cake sessions and devouring fast food at lunch due to a deadline is bad enough, but the real problem is that you’re not going to burn those calories off at your desk, which means you’re going to gain weight. Fight this by joining an afternoon physical activity, running up the stairs, packing your own lunch, and avoiding work drinks.
9. Dress Code
Women may feel that their high heels make them look tall and confident, but when comparing these benefits to the health risks, they are not worth it. Your reduced balance may cause you to fall, while your spine and tense muscles need to overwork just to keep you upright. Furthermore, the pressure on your toes can lead to bunions, hammer toes, and ingrown toenails.
Whether a highly stressed environment, a boss breathing down your neck, the isolation of screen communication, or the above health issues, every entry on this list can ultimately drag you down into some form of depression. Exercise and meditation will go a long way, socialize as much as possible, and if it gets really bad, speak to a professional.