Did you know that Singaporeans are known to work the longest hours in the world? A recent research by Morgan McKinley in 2016 found that this city state topped the list in when it came to working hours. The same survey found that 70 per cent of professionals in Singapore work longer than their contracted hours. Since we spend so much time at work, it is more crucial than ever that we maintain healthy workplace habits that can help us pace ourselves at work and relieve the physical and mental tensions that affect our productivity.
1. Have a break, have it micro
Desk-bound workers are often time pressed with many tasks to complete within a short amount of time. Long hours spent sitting can result in Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), a term for health problems that result from overuse or misuse of muscles, tendons, and nerves.
Before this discomfort sets in, consider taking a micro-break. These are regular, small, biologically meaningful 5-10 second breaks. For every 4 to 10 minutes in a stationary position, try looking away from your screen. Drop your arms to your sides, lean back and allow your shoulders to droop and relax. Alternatively, point your hands towards the floor and gently shake your wrists.
2. Don’t just dream of massages, give yourself one
Be it lengthy periods of computer time or having to stand for long hours, we’ve all at some point yearned for a nice massage to ease our bodily strains from static posture.
A self-shoulder and neck massage can help to ease the tension and anxiety in your fatigued muscles. More than that, the kneading motions in massage can improve circulation in these areas and promote relaxation. You don’t have to wait for that next appointment with your masseur for a bit of relief. Better still, it’s free.
3. Have a little chat
With our computer screens in front of us all day, we hardly get face time with our colleagues. This is a reality of our increasingly digital workplaces and as a result, issues like workplace loneliness can arise. Don’t underestimate emotional needs, as loneliness can bring about a series of undesirable effects on our health such as disrupted sleep, high blood pressure and increased rates of anxiety and depression.
Instead of falling into the trap of isolation, make it a point to have a short chat with one colleague every day. Having periodic conversations can boost moods, allowing both you and your colleague to return to work rejuvenated and more productive.
4. Stay clutter-free
Clearing up the piles of documents and stray pieces of stationary strewn across your workstations may be the last thing on our to-do list, but clutter can actually have a negative effect on productivity. This also applies to digital clutter, where your desktop is filled with folders and icons you may not even recognise.
Removing unnecessary items and keeping only what you need can help you to focus on the task at hand. Try setting aside time at the end of the day to tidy up your physical and digital desktops. Neat and organised desktops can contribute to a refreshing start to your morning!
5. Step out of the workplace
With the multiple food delivery services, office workers today don’t have to leave their desks for lunch. While convenient, this can have a negative impact on productivity and health as workers remain sedentary in the office for even longer periods of time.
Go for a walk with your colleagues at lunchtime and have a healthy conversation. You’ll be surprised how much a short break can do to clear or minds and reduce pressure on our backs. The shift in environment and the inhalation of fresh oxygen can help reset our intentions for the day, allowing us to return more productive than before.
Whether you work from a corporate cubicle or home office, your job can deliver stress and sedentary behaviour that result in mental and physical strain. As such, it is important to instil workplace habits that set you up for success, both for work and health. A physiotherapist can help you understand some simple adjustments that you can make to your lifestyle and workplace environment, to alleviate physical and mental tolls from work.
Contributed by Sylvia Ho, Senior Principal Physiotherapist, Core Concepts
Photo credits: Core Concepts, Good Relaxation and Pixabay