Across the world, people are adapting to the new normal. Everybody is urged to wear a mask and maintain a distance between one another. Online shopping is heavily encouraged. Hand sanitizers and toilet paper are in high demand. One of the most important shifts happens virtually. From the US to Hong Kong, schools are reopening online to prevent the virus from spreading. It’s not just colleges or universities. Companies are also allowing their employees to work remotely, temporarily or permanently. The downside is that this sudden shift also has some negative health effects.
Here are three common health issues worsened or caused by remote work and how you can address them:
Neck and Back Pain
Back pain can be caused by scoliosis. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 6 to 9 million people in the US suffer from the condition. On the bright side, scoliosis can be treated without surgery. If you’re experiencing chronic back pain and your posture is getting worse, consult a doctor to get diagnosed.
One of the disadvantages of working from home is the difference in equipment. In the office, you had the convenience of using ergonomic chairs and desks. At home, you’re probably working at your dining table or even at your bed. It’s not surprising that your neck or back is aching at the end of the workday.
The easiest and most viable option is to get a comfortable and adjustable chair at home. Companies are planning to shift to remote work permanently. While ergonomic chairs can be pricey, they’re a good investment for the long term. If that’s not an option for you due to budget and space constraints, there are alternatives worth a try. You can use cushions to support your lower back. As you’re working, remember to sit back in your chair. The tendency is to sit up straight, but it can hurt your back after a few hours. To prevent neck pain, you can elevate your computer so that you’re not always looking down. You don’t have to buy anything fancy or expensive. You can just put your tablet or laptop on top of a pile of books.
Computer Vision Syndrome
WFH arrangements expect you to look in front of a computer screen for at least eight hours per day. Unfortunately, this puts remote workers at higher risk of getting computer vision syndrome. The American Optometric Association says that people who spend two hours or more using a digital device every day tend to develop digital eyestrain.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can relieve eye strain without compromising your work. Like back and neck pain, eyes can also be caused by poor posture. Find a way how you can be comfortable working for hours at home by trying different arrangements. Use other chairs, try pillows, and adjust the height of your computer until you find the position that suits you. If you’re working near a window, consider buying an anti-glare filter. The glare on your digital screen can cause discomfort. If you don’t have access to natural light, invest in indirect light sources. Keep the room softly lit so that your eyes aren’t straining to adjust. If your eyes often feel dry, buy artificial tears to keep them moisturized.
One of the best ways to alleviate eye discomfort is with proper rest.
When you’re rushing to meet a deadline, it’s easy to forget to take a break. But rest isn’t earned, it’s essential. If you’re not well-rested, you won’t perform your tasks to the best of your abilities. You can start by following the expert-recommended 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, you focus on an item 20 feet away, and that is done for 20 seconds. You should also take a break from time to time to stretch and walk around.
Stress and Anxiety
On the surface, working from home is like a dream. You don’t have to wake up early to travel to the office. You don’t even have to dress nicely. Put on a jacket whenever you have a meeting, and you’re good to go. But it’s not without its challenges. The lack of boundaries between work and personal life can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. A recent survey found that half of Americans are feeling burned out due to remote work.
To relieve stress, you can establish boundaries at home. Create a dedicated space where you’re working. You should also follow a routine before and after work so that your body is accustomed to the differences.
The new normal is not without its issues and challenges. The best way to address the changes is by adapting. Try out different things to find out what works for you.