It is very important to know what stress is and what forms it comes in. Know thy enemy! But really, stress is not all bad. It is a fact of life. It is when the stress level is too high or your body has low resistance to the stress that it becomes a problem. Your body will soon complain about the stress by making you feel it in your personal areas of weakness. Some will get a headache. Some will experience bowel disturbances. Still others may get lower back pain or get a cold.
A quick rundown of physical stresses may include: Improper sleep position, inappropriate pillow for you, inadequate sleep, length of your commute, how much of the day you spend sitting, the amount of travelling you do, how often you sleep in different beds, the ergonomics of your work station, the quality of the chair you use, how you lounge on the sofa or in the recliner, what you hobbies are and how you position yourself to do them, how intense your exercise is, how much you weigh, you occupation and perhaps the existence of other unhealed injuries. The biggies though are you sleep position, the ergonomics of your workstation, and how much quality sleep you get. So, let’s take a look at those.
Sleep Position: You should either be sleeping on your side or on your back with your arms at your side or in front. When sleeping on your side, your knees should be together. For those with wide dips a pillow between your knees is helpful. Your pillow should support the natural curve of your neck when lying on your back and when laying on your side your neck should be in a straight line with the rest of your body. Mattress selection is a personal matter as everyone’s body is different. It needs to conform to and support your body and spine.
If you consider how much time you spend at work, you soon realize how important it is to reduce the physical stress of working by improving the ergonomics of your work environment. You should be sitting back in your chair with your back supported by the back rest. This forces you to sit up straighter which takes stress off 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.
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, every effort should be made 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 6-8 hours of sleep in order to feel refreshed and recharged. Your room should be dark with noises off.