We’re a sedentary workforce these days. More and more people make their living sitting in front of a computer. For those in the IT field, this shift in the way we move through the world can create some pretty serious problems that can bring on a nasty surprise when we finally get up out of that office chair. Here are four common IT ailments, and some suggestions on how to deal with them.
Slump, look down too often, look to the right or left too much. If that computer monitor isn’t at the correct height and centered in front of your keyboard and eyes, you can cause some long-lasting problems to your neck and back. Wrist injuries, like carpel tunnel, can creep up on you, too. Of course, you know all of this, and you’ve bought every ergonomic product that Office Depot has to offer. Yet those problems seem to persist.
There is no nifty gadget to make you perfectly comfortable and healthy. Then to add insult to injury, you’ve started getting this sloppy pot belly. It came on with the slouch. Here’s a news flash: Gadgets and wishful thinking won’t make you feel any better or look any better. You have to get up out of that chair and walk away from the computer.
If you work in an office, you could be the workday IT hero by suggesting different people take a 15-minute walk with you. If they look at you like you’re from another planet, then just get up and stretch. Try to touch those toes while you can still see them. And when you sit back down, make sure the computer monitor is directly in front of you and centered. Sit up straight; get a comfortable chair with good lower-back support. That slouch is creating a loose belly protrusion.
If you’re in the heart of IT at any company, and you are considered “Mr. Fix-it,” your biggest problem is probably stress. Your second biggest problem is a secretary who is an expert at shopping online, but can’t figure out how to save a document. Your cell phone probably will ring right in the middle of a first date. It will. It’s a fact of being in IT. The stress will kill you! Just don’t let it.
Set some boundaries. Turn that phone off when you’re with friends and family, and sharing quality time. Make sure your supervisor knows there will be times you will be unavailable, and then follow through and be unavailable. You may not have much control over saving files, but you can sure block EBay or other problem sites from the company servers. It’s about taking care of yourself as much as your company because you’re no good to anyone if you’re so stressed out you begin to get sick.
Here’s another little tip: If you work with computers all day, don’t go home and spend all of your free time sitting in front of one. Get out and make some flesh and blood connections. Play with your dog. Call your friends for drinks. Take a walk in the local park. Just don’t LIVE in front of your computer. It’s very unhealthy on many levels, but mostly, you need the mental break.
3. Poor Nutrition
Women will tell you that they can attack and devour a pound of chocolate in two seconds when they’re stressed. All people love a little comfort in the form of pizza, cheeseburgers and sweets. IT people eat at their desks. Most aren’t eating a fresh fruit salad and grilled salmon. Most are unaware of what or how much of anything they put in their mouths. This is so, so bad.
Poor nutrition attributes to that little gut, lack of concentration, mood and the vital health of vital organs. Therefore, when you get up to take that walk, also get up to eat a healthy meal. Whatever you do, break the mindless junk food habit that comes with spending too much time in front of a computer.
If you just can’t get away when you want to, then shift from chips to bananas or apples. Drink water instead of four pots of coffee or three liters of soda. Be aware of yourself when you absently get up to go for that gallon of ice cream. If that doesn’t do it, get naked and take a good look at yourself in the mirror. The shock should set you straight pretty fast.
4. Lack of Exercise
You might have the Mr. Universe of fingers, but the rest of you looks pretty unhealthy if you haven’t been taking care of yourself due to your total immersion IT experience. A lack of exercise that comes with the sedentary workplace is one of the biggest health risks facing today’s IT workers.
Eight hours in front of the computer at work, and then four or five more hours at home, means you’ve lost your girlish figure. If you can’t wrap your head around it any other way, make exercise a part of your work day.
That chirpy little mantra about “rewarding yourself” is just annoying. Make it work if you have to. It will improve your posture, help alleviate muscle and neck pain, and keep you looking good and feeling healthy. Also, exercise it the best natural remedy for stress. Get in the habit as fast as you can.
Conclusion: Death By Technology
Sounds kind of pithy and fun to say, and it likely will make it to the vernacular in many coroners’ labs. It will be that malady that sort of falls into a mish-mash of things that just happen to gang up on you and make you unhappy at work, and unhealthy in life.
We could go on and on about the technical issues that hound just about every person who uses a computer to make a living, but those things won’t kill you or run you out of your job. It’s the stuff you have control over, so make sure you are aware of the ailments and that you do something about it! IT is cool. Being healthy and happy makes it a full-on joy to do for a living. Give it a try.