Here are some common physical stresses:

  • Improper sleep position
  • Inappropriate pillow for your body
  • Inadequate sleep
  • A long commute
  • Too much of your day spent sitting
  • Frequently sleeping in different beds
  • Poor ergonomics of your work station
  • A low quality chair
  • Too much time lounging on the sofa or in the recliner
  • Hobbies that require you to be in an uncomfortable physical position
  • Intense physical exercise
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Having unhealed injuries 

The biggest stressors—and the easiest ones to reduce—are your sleep position, the ergonomics of your workstation, and how much quality sleep you get.   

Sleep Position:  You should either sleep on your side or your back, with your arms at your side or in front.  When sleeping on your side, your knees should be together.  If you have wide hips, a pillow between your knees is helpful.  Your pillow should support the natural curve of your neck when lying on your back, and when lying on your side, your neck should be in a straight line with the rest of your body.  Everyone’s body is different, so your mattress needs to conform to and support your body and spine.

Ergonomics: Sit back in your chair with your back supported by the back rest.  This forces you to sit up straighter, which takes stress off of your back and neck.  Your feet should be flat on the floor.  Your arms should be supported by arm rests.  Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and your keyboard should be at a height that allows the wrists to be in line with your forearms.  Your mouse should be at the keyboard level in a position that does not require you to reach for it.  Lastly, your monitor should be straight in front of you at a height that does not require you to look up or down, and at a distance where you can see.  Glasses prescriptions may need to be adjusted for computer monitor distance, which is usually different from reading distance.

Sleep: Quality, uninterrupted sleep is very important to your overall health and wellbeing.  Our bodies run on what is called a circadian rhythm.  We are neurologically and hormonally wired to wake in the morning and sleep when the sun goes down.  The body sleeps the best when there is regularity in the sleep schedule.  Swing shift work is very hard on the body, and research has even shown that there is an increase in cancer risk when a person’s sleep patterns are irregular.  So make every effort to have an established bed time.  In a situation where you are up a bit later, you should adjust your wake time so that you get your needed sleep amount.  I have found that most adults need between 6 and 8 hours of sleep in order to feel refreshed and recharged.  Your room should be dark and quiet.

These are relatively easy changes to make, but it is up to you to get it done!