Please welcome Susan Lyons to the convertible today. After reading her post, I'm already sitting up straighter. Dare I even consider going outside for a walk? ;-)
Take Care of You!
Recently, a writer posted to one of my loops that she was spending so much time at the computer that she was popping acetaminophen like jelly beans. That reminded me of the days I used to pop over-the-counter acetaminophen with codeine because it was the only thing that would even dull my constant headaches. And yet today I work, for the most part, pain free or close to it. You can imagine what a huge difference that makes to my state of mind, and my creativity.
Our anatomy evolved over a very long time, and it’s been only an eye’s blink of that time since we’ve become mostly sedentary. Our bodies were designed to be physically active, and most of us are anything but.
I’m a writer. What with writing, some day job consulting work, email, and all the admin, promo, and bookkeeping work that goes with running my own business, I’m probably at the computer 9-10 hours a day. I probably sit for another 3-4 hours a day. How about you? How many hours a day do you spend sitting on your butt? And how healthy do you feel?
I’d like to share the suggestions that I, and various other people on that loop, came up with, and I’d like to hear yours. (There’s a free book in it for you!)
CAUTION! Every body is different. What helps one person might injure another. If you try different exercises, office configurations, or treatments, ease into them and see how you feel before diving in whole-heartedly. If you have significant physical issues, consult your doctor.
Now, here are some suggestions:
· Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. Caffeine dehydrates you.
· Get lots of sleep.
· Pay attention to your posture.
· Get your eyes checked regularly.
· Have an ergonomic work setup that’s good for your body. Check out this article: http://www.office-ergo.com/conventi.htm
· Invest in a chair that’s good for you.
· Vary where and how you work: desk, coffee shop, laptop in the living room (maybe try a lap desk), high chair at the kitchen island.
· Try working standing up. Consider using a treadmill under your desk: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/treadmill-desk/mm00706
· At least every half hour, focus for at least 30 seconds on something that’s a different focal length than your computer and preferably is relaxing (e.g., trees outside the window, a painting on your wall).
· At least every half hour (set a timer), get up, move around, and stretch. Alternate desk work with activities like housework and gardening.
· Stretch throughout the day – e.g., see http://www.wikihow.com/Exercise-While-Sitting-at-Your-Computer and http://exercise.about.com/od/flexibilityworkouts/tp/officestretches.htm. Yoga is great too.
· Walk, swim, or cycle regularly. Aerobic is terrific, but even a 10 minute walk a couple of times a day is great. Walk whenever you can (e.g., to the grocery store), but be careful how much weight you carry, and how you carry it.
· Schedule regular workouts to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and work off stress – whether it’s on the yoga mat in front of the TV or at a fitness club.
· Do exercises for carpel tunnel and repetitive strain. This book has been recommended to me: http://www.rsi-relief.com/product/1572240393-conquering-carpal-tunnel-syndrome-and-other (and check out this free download for computer users: http://www.selfcare4rsi.com/).
· Consider visiting a massage therapist, a physiotherapist, and/or a chiropractor. For me, one visit to the chiro can save me days or weeks of pain.
· Relax in the bathtub (and Jacuzzi and hot tub if you’re lucky enough to have them).
· Use heating pads, bean bags you can warm up, or gel packs you can heat or chill.
The thing that made the biggest difference for me was finding a personal trainer who, over the course of months, gave me a progressive set of exercises and stretches to build me up and maintain me. If I stretch every day and do half an hour of her exercises 3-4 times a week, I will be pain free 80-90% of the time, which is pretty awesome.
Staying fit takes time, and it’s time away from the computer. It may cost money, too. But think of how much time you lose when you’re flat on your back with muscle spasms, how much money you spend on painkillers, and how much mental focus and creativity you lose when you’re in pain. Good health is worth it!
Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you have tips to share for those of us who spend a good part of our day sitting on our butts? One person who comments will win an autographed copy of my second Wild Ride to Love book, Love, Unexpectedly.
Susan Lyons, who also writes as Susan Fox, is the award-winning author of sexy contemporary romance that’s passionate, heartwarming, and fun. She is published by Kensington Brava, Kensington Aphrodisia, Berkley Heat, Harlequin Spice Briefs, and The Wild Rose Press. A resident of both Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., Susan has degrees in law and psychology but would far rather be writing fiction than living in the real world.