Can you stand to sit any longer?
Sit too long and stress takes off
The usual thinking is when under stress of a deadline the best choice is to just knuckle down and get it done. That could be the very thing to send your stress levels skyrocketing. Nathan Kleitman is a sleep researcher who discovered the 90 minute cycle all people need to move through the five stages of sleep. His study of brain cycles while awake let to his discovery of how there is a related 90 minute cycle for activity. After 90 minutes of concentrated focus, the human brain needs to recharge itself or it will rely on cortisol to begin to combat stress. Just getting up and moving for five minutes can reduce your stress levels, allow your brain to recover, and prepare you to be just as focused for the next 90 minutes of work.
“Take Five” minutes of movement instead of exercising at lunch
Some people try to combat the stress of sitting too long at their desk by walking, running or working out during the lunch break. While lunch exercise is certainly helpful in many ways, it is the wrong way to go about getting the movement you need to increase focus. New studies show you need just five minutes of alternating high intensity bursts of exercise to get the stress reducing benefits. While you may not be able to break out into burpees in your cubicle, the study showed how five minutes of whole body movement had a positive impact. Stand up and stretch, do some knee bends, and rotate your hips to help restore circulation to the body. Even just standing for a part of a 90 minute period can help to restore your body and brain. (Standing helps you sound more confident as well!) Check out Emily Milam's blog for other desk activities.
Which ergonomic office items are worth it?
Your boss may balk at a $700 ergonomic desk chair, but perhaps she will find benefit in providing you with the following effective, but affordable ergonomic support devices.
- Wrist supports
- Document holders
- Anti-glare screens
- Foot rests
- Lumbar cushions
The goal is to keep your body posture correct while sitting. What does that look like? Your feet should rest flat on the floor, your thighs should be in 90-degree angle to your calves, your lower back should have a curve to it, your shoulders should be even and pulled slightly back, your chin should be parallel to the floor. You should not have to stretch to use any item on your desk.
Things you can do to break the sitting cycle
There are many tips for breaking the sitting cycle. The first is to stand when on a phone call and wear a headset to keep your neck aligned. The second major tip is to set a timer to remind you to get up and move.
Moving doesn't have to always be stretching and bending, you can choose to change what you are doing to break the sedentary position. Every 90 minutes take a walk to the copier, stand to file something, or go get a drink of water. You don't have to be away from your desk for very long, just long enough to allow the circulation to restore itself throughout your whole body. Movement is an investment in yourself! The effect you will see on your productivity level, stress levels and overall sense of wellness will be surprising, and something that will get noticed in the office.