Clocking off from work
Exercises at your desk
Your workday recovery strategy begins before you even leave the workplace. If you rush off, leaving everything in a state of chaos, it will be very hard to relax — and arriving at work the next day will be a nightmare!
Leave a tidy desk
Leaving your work area tidy and organised helps you to switch off mentally, and prevents you worrying about unfinished business. Leave yourself a ‘to do’ list, prioritising tasks for the next day — and if at all possible, avoid lugging work home with you. Yes, it might be pressing stuff, but you’ll be far better equipped to handle it after a physical and mental break, rather than when you are already tired and jaded.
Also, if you work on a computer, switch it off when you leave — this reduces the EMG output, as well as giving you ‘closure’ on your working day.
If you are one of the 59 per cent of the population who sits down all day at work, stand up and stretch out when you’re done for the day. Slip off your shoes and rise up on to the balls of your feet and then back down to the heels, to boost the circulation in the lower legs. Wiggle your toes around to ‘wake up’ your feet.
Try these three exercises to ease tension in the back, neck and shoulders. (If you use the phone a lot, and don’t have a headset, you’ll probably find that your neck flexibility is better on one side than the other — so focus more on the tighter side.)
With your arms crossed over your chest and feet on the floor, lean against the chair back and allow the mid back to curl back over it, lifting elbows up to the ceiling and allowing your head to follow your neck. Hold for a moment, then return to an upright position.
Take your left ear over to your left shoulder to stretch the muscles on the right side of your neck. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the right, aiming for two to three repetitions on each side. Then, with your chin tucked in, slowly turn your head to the right and left, five times on each side.
Roll your shoulders to the back, and then to the front — then lift them right up to your ears, tensing the muscles, and allow them to drop completely.
If you use a keyboard all day, you need to stretch out your arms and wrists, so check out the stretch below. This will prevent tightness and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
Arm and wrist stretch
Hold your right arm straight out in front of you with your palm facing up. Use your left hand to pull your fingers back and down to the floor. Feel the stretch on the underside of your forearm and wrist. Now turn the arm palm down, and draw the fingers back towards the forearm, keeping them straight. Swap sides.
Easy on the eyes
If your eyes feel dry or strained, cup your hands over your face, so that no light can get in. Hold this position for a few moments, breathing freely. Eye drops will also help to moisten and relieve tired eyes, but if they regularly feel this way, have an eye test and ensure that your computer monitor is set up correctly and isn’t flickering.