As many millions of people around the world spend eight or more hours a day in offices, it is no surprise that ‘office stress’ is a common cause of many chronic well-being and vision problems. However it is reassuring to know we can greatly reduce the stress we find there.
One of the key factors involves awareness of what particular daily and hourly occurrences are causing strain on the body, eyes and mind. You can take note of what environmental factors around you most influence your ability to think clearly and stay relaxed. Then make any changes you can towards reducing this effect. By increasing your comfort and reducing stress, you will find that you and your body are happier, and your work performance will improve!
Posture awareness is very important. Make sure your seating is good and supports your lower back. Adjust the height of your chair relative to your writing or typing surface to achieve the most comfort. Feet should reach the floor or be otherwise supported. Are you sitting straight? Use a special pillow to support your back if need be. Your computer screen should be just slightly below eye level and never above it.
The body is meant to move. Our main toxin elimination system, the lymphatic system, is pumped only by the movement of muscles. Build up of toxins in muscles and joints due to sitting in one place for hours can cause aches and pains. Some simple movements, done for just a couple of minutes each hour or two, can greatly relieve this problem. You can even do these movements without getting up from your chair! While doing the following movements breathe deeply and allow your body to relax as much as possible. Give your body and the movement your full attention for these brief moments for maximum benefit. (Don’t think about the next task yet!)
Use the visualization with the movement to help activate your right brain. This will help you to ‘switch-on’ and relax both body and mind.
Start at your feet and work your way up. Move each body part 5 or 6 times or until it feels loose. (You can enjoy a gentle stretching feeling but never do these movements in a way that causes pain. )
- Curl and extend your toes. Pretend you are sitting on the beach wiggling your toes in the sand.
- Circle your ankles, both directions. Imagine you are using your feet to polish a very large apple under your desk.
- Curl and extend lower legs one at time, from the knees. Visualize kicking a winning goal to great applause.
- Sit up very straight and turn to one side. Grasp the back of your chair and support yourself in a gentle twist at the waist. Be sure to keep your spine up right the whole time. Play peek a boo with the room or view behind you. Repeat once or twice on both sides.
- Stand up and gently rotate your hips in a circle first one direction, than the other. This is important for those sitting for long periods, especially women. If you can’t do interesting things like this in the office, be sure to do it in the privacy of the bathroom when the time comes. Now is the time for some bellydancing flair!
- Circle shoulders or ‘butterfly press’. Be a Spanish Dancer. Feel how gracefully and intriguingly you can move your arms and shoulders.
- Drop one ear to one shoulder, roll down until your chin is on your chest, then roll up until the other ear is near the other shoulder. Repeat in the reverse direction. (Don’t roll your head around to the back.) Imagine you are a great chef preparing delicious foods rolled in rice!
Whole body movement undertaken regularly, especially with some aerobic or callisthenic benefit will also keep you more comfortable in your body throughout long workdays. Walking is one of the best and most gentle activities. Do your best to walk, ride a bike, swim or undertake other whole body movements 3 – 4 times a week for a minimum of 30-40 minutes and you will notice improvements in your moods as well as physical wellbeing and stamina. Doing the ‘Cross-Crawl’ keeps both hemispheres of your brain switched on and working together. The cross-crawl assists clear thinking and clear eyesight. Enjoy any of our seminars or products, or visit your nearest Brain-Gym Instructor or kinesiologist for more information on the Cross-Crawl.
Cross crawl for 10 minutes a day to your favorite music, and again for a moment or two anytime you need both sides of your brain ‘on’.
An excellent option for all the above is to put a mini-trampoline (Rebounder) near your desk or in the office near a view, and gently bounce on it occasionally. You can achieve both good cross-crawl and good lymphatic pumping this way. For those who stand for long periods the Rebounder is also excellent body support, whether you do your standing on it or take a few minutes to bounce in each hour or so. Your feet will love you for it! Carina uses a Rebounder when teaching residential seminars, to take the pressure off the feet, keep the body fresh and energized and a bonus for short Instructors; it helps lift her up to visibility!
For your eyes (especially for computer workers) a few moments break every 50-90 minutes is essential. Do the following activities in this break.
Take 5 minutes to ‘Palm’ your eyes. Cup your hands and place them gently over your closed eyes, resting your elbows on your desk. Do your best to position yourself so your back is straight. This may mean placing a briefcase sized object under your elbows. Breathe deeply and imagine you are on the beach, with a gentle breeze wafting scented air over you.
Especially for short-sighted folks, a moment or two of ‘Near-Far Swing’ is very beneficial, either out a window, or on a beautiful landscape on the wall. Breathe deeply as you take your gaze from close into the distance and back again, in a smooth glide. Do it with your eyes open and closed.
Your eyes like variety, so whether you want to improve or maintain the vision you have now, make sure to do different things with your eyes throughout each day. Keep the eyes active, moving and relaxed as much as possible!
Office lighting is also a major factor in overall and visual stress, so as much natural light as possible is desirable. Even bringing in a desk lamp with an incandescent globe to improve the spectrum of lighting in your work area can help. A big boost is to ‘Sun’ your eyes briefly (2-5 minutes) before and after work, and during your lunch break. (Please do this only for extremely short periods during the middle of the day and/or do it in the shade in the summer months.) Close your eyes and turn your head to the sun. Trace around the edge
of the sun with your nose.
Breathing and the air around you play an important role in brain function. Where windows are closed and/or air conditioning is used, plants may help. (See accompanying article.) Breathe in both the chest and the belly to keep the brain full of oxygen and the body relaxed. Remember to breathe deeply – all the time!
As often as possible wear non-restrictive clothing, especially around the belly. Tight clothing hinders blood flow, breathing and digestion. Wearing natural fibres as much as possible will allow the skin to breathe, which is very important for elimination of toxins.
For women, it is best to avoid wearing pantyhose because the synthetic material blocks air circulation and the constriction may impair blood flow to the legs and digestive area, potentially leading to bladder problems and
What about nutrition? Eating highly processed foods takes energy from the body rather then contributing it. On inactive days your food should be high in natural fibre to help move it through your system. Always eat as much raw fruit and vegetables as possible. Try to avoid dairy products, tea, coffee and sugar. The latter three are toxins that have an artificial stimulant effect that does you more harm then good in the long run. Keep yourself going on snacks of fresh fruit and nuts! It really works!
Become more aware of the effects that electromagnetic (EM) radiation has on you. The human body has its own electromagnetic signature. Modern electronic devices work on a frequency that stresses this organic electromagnetic signature. This can result in symptoms such as eye irritation, hand-joint inflammation, headaches, lethargy, disrupted hormone cycles and general stress.
To help reduce this effect, switch machines off at the wall (and unplug) whenever possible. There are also devices currently available on the market which may help shield this radiation.
Finally, general mental and emotional stress from work is created on a daily basis – so it really helps to remove it on a daily basis. Before and after work, take at least 10 minutes to sit down, relax, breathe and let go of the day’s thoughts and problems. You will work better throughout the day for giving yourself some morning transition time, and your family will appreciate you coming home in a more relaxed state.
Why Plants Are Great At Work!
While forests pump out huge quantities of oxygen into the atmosphere, it is often not appreciated that a single plant or two in your near environment can improve indoor air quality.
Certain plants actually filter the air, not only increasing the quantity of oxygen near them, but removing certain harmful elements. Especially in commercial buildings, chemicals pollute the indoor environment. Formaldehyde, a preservative widely used in decorating materials, commonly causes eye, nose and throat irritation, as well as headaches, nausea and other symptoms.
Through NASA’s research into space capsule air quality, several ordinary types of house plant have been found to have a significant effect towards cleaning pollutants from the air, including formaldehyde. These plants are:
- Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
- Peperomia (Peperomia argentinia cvs)
- Syngonium ‘White Butterfly’ (Syngonium podophyllum cvs)
- Dwarf Banana Plants
- Golden Pothos (Scindapsus aureus pothos)
Perhaps buy 2-3 of the same variety, and keep one at work and the others at home, then exchange the plants every couple of weeks or so to give the one in the office time to rejuvenate. As well as filtering the air, plants increase the oxygen, improve humidity, have beneficial effects on moods and morale, and may reduce the effects of electromagnetic radiation.
Plants all around generally improve the wellbeing of those around them. Enjoy!