Work from Home: Side-effects & solutions

Congratulations! We are soon to complete six months into the COVID-19 enforced lockdown. With partial easing, it does appear like life is back to normal, but is it? Now, many have come to gradually – perhaps – grudgingly accept the changes imposed in our day to day lives. Indians, like billions across the world are getting used to catching up with friends and relatives over video calls, distancing from each other in public or even at home when connecting with friendly neighbours. However, the biggest new normal for many has been the adoption of the concept of WFH (work from home). Almost the entire workforce of the country is doing that now. Never has the world seen an exercise of this magnitude. The benefits are many. No more hour-plus commutes. Extra cuddle time with your spouse, kids, and pets. More time for acceptable outdoor activity. And less chance a co-worker ending up taking credit for your work or usurping your delicious home-made lunch.

Companies too have realised that the concept of WFH is not all that bad. In many cases, it has been found to be more efficient, with productivity improving. It’s more economically efficient for sure. Downsizing expensive real estate and associated costs being the most obvious advantages. But as more companies and people embrace remote working, a major downside has begun to emerge. New or worsening back, neck, leg, and shoulder pain among telecommuters.

The culprit – the “jugaad” (innovations) used by many to convert spaces at home to use as office:

  • WFB (Work from Bed) – what can be more comfortable?

  • Perhaps a stack of books doubling as a makeshift desk.

  • An empty coffee container to prop up the tablet serving as the monitor.

  • The low back dining chair being requisitioned as an all-day office chair.

All these workarounds lead to poor ergonomics – affecting the right posture. It may not be obvious, but office furniture is researched and designed for modern-day white-collar work. Just as poorly fitting shoes punish your feet, the makeshift workspace created at home can lead to neck and back pain in the short run, and a serious injury if not treated in time.

Chronic neck and back pain can take a major toll on your life. Even before covid times, back pain had been a leading cause of missed days at work and school. Without proper care, approximately 25% of people with acute low-back pain will have persistent symptoms such as cervical spondylitis within a year. Let me share some amazingly simple ways in which you can reorganise your home workspace to make it easier on your neck and spine:

1. Take a stand against sitting: Standing while you work can be good for your health. The average adult sits nine hours per day. Did you know that sitting for so long can double the risk of type 2 diabetes and increase the risk of heart disease by 10% to 20%? Standing while working could double up as a “work-out”. Not only does it help burn a few extra calories, but it also de-stresses your spine. Avoid leaning, slouching, or using a workstation that is too high or too low. It can lead to muscle and joint pain. Wear comfortable and supportive shoes when standing, even at home.

2. Pace around when on phone: It does seem hard to find a quiet spot at home, especially where signal strength is great, but even the slightest up down pacing of a couple of steps is better than being stationary or seated.

3. Find a chair that fits: Make sure the chair delivers both support and comfort to your lower back and hips. Lying on the bed or lounging on the fluffy furniture does feel comfy. However, slouching over your laptop or lying down while typing is hard on the body. Especially when your 15-minute video call turns into an hour. When seated, if you sit too far forward, you will end up arching your back, and too far back and you’re slouching. Neither is good for your spine. Consider using a foot stool. Your knees should be at hip level or slightly above to take pressure off the lower back. Avoid crossing your knees or ankles, which also can contribute to low-back pain.

4. See the light and the outlets: Find a spot to work that’s near an outlet for a lamp or natural light, else you may end up craning your neck and straining your eyes. And when your laptop battery dips to one bar on an important video call, make sure you have an outlet in close proximity so that you don’t have to cold stretch.

Now that I have told you ways of avoiding the problem, let me tell you simple ways of curing it, just in case you already are suffering. Here are some of the treatments by which you can get rid of problems caused due to Work from Home…

Work from Home: Side-effects & solutions
Work from Home: Side-effects & solutions
Work from Home: Side-effects & solutions

Stimulate the corresponding are on hand with stretchable ring or plastic thumb pad for about fifteen to twenty seconds, three to four times a day and at night paste seed strip, will be common in all pain problems given below.

To treat your backache, paste a strip of chickpeas /gram on the back of hand.

To cure Cervical Spondilitis with Vertigo paste a strip of fenugreek seeds all around the base and middle joint of small finger of both hands.

For Chronic Ceronic Cervical spondilitis paste fenugreek strip all around the upper joint of middle and small fingers of both hands.

For leg pain, paste fenugreek strip which should be broad enough to cover the phalange on leg corresponding middle and ring finger.

(From increasing metabolism to overcoming physical problems, Prof Luthria speaks about the art of self-healing through simple techniques. For more information on treatments and remedies, kindly visit www.artofselfhealing.in.)

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