Working from home has a number of benefits – from being able to watch Come Dine With Me while you type away to saving money on the commute.
But you’ll probably notice there are a number of downsides, too, from a sore back because your chair isn’t ergonomic to the fact we haven’t gotten out of pyjamas for weeks.
These downsides don’t just lead to us feeling a little sluggish come the weekend. Apparently they could also lead to long-term health problems.
Job experts, DirectlyApply have created a terrifying model depicting what you could look like if you worked from home for the rest of your life. Her name is Susan, and she’s tired af.
Susan was created by a team of clinical psychologists and fitness experts who determined the effects remote working has on both our physical and mental health.
The model portrays the effects isolated working can have on your body if we don’t take the necessary steps to avoid them.
Here’s what we can expect if this whole remote working thing continues for a quarter of a century:
Computer Vision Syndrome
Staring at screens all day can also cause Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome. This results in dry, inflamed and bloodshot eyes, as well as eye irritation, redness and blurred vision. Over time it can also negatively impact your eyesight.
While this can happen in a standard office setting, we might be more inclined to take breaks (cuppa and water cooler chat anyone?) and be part of meetings that don’t involve staring at a screen.
Schedule a five minute screen break at least every hour and try to stay off screens once you finish work.
Even if you have a proper WFH setup, you might be breaking proper health and safety procedure when it comes to how you sit and the way you’re looking up or down at your screen.
Couple this poor posture with a lack of physical exercise (we’re not judging) and this can result in a hyperextended neck, rounded shoulders and a hunchback which will start developing over time.
It will work its way from your neck to your hands and back as the strains slowly create a bend in the neck.
Repetitive typing strain
Typing repetitively over long periods of time can lead to repetitive strain injury in your hands and wrists that can significantly worsen and result in poor posture in other parts of the body over time.
If you’re experiencing more symptoms of RSI recently, it may be because your working setup is causing you to stretch your wrists and fingers in ways you wouldn’t normally.
Check out the NHS website for tips to prevent repetitive strain injury.
At the start of lockdown you might have been raring to get outside for your state-sanctioned daily walk.
Now the streets are busier and you’re set in your routine, though, perhaps that keen-bean spirit has dropped off slightly. This could be bad news for your barnet.
Vitamin D is mostly absorbed from sun exposure, so working indoors all day can leave the body deficient which can cause hair loss and new hair growth can be significantly stunted.
Outdoor exercise is great for mental health as well as your body, and it doesn’t need to be strenuous. Do it for your follicles.
Staring at multiple screens while working all day can cause prominent dark circles to form in the skin under your eyes, leaving you looking tired and haggard after prolonged periods.
Poor Susan may have been working longer hours while at home, and not adjusting her lights. Dark circles can be worsened when you strain your eyes, enlarging the blood vessels.
As mentioned before, make sure to take regular screen breaks, get plenty of sleep, and keep the room bright so you don’t need to squint to see.
A very modern problem caused by looking up or down at laptops and phones, this results in excessive strain on the neck, a rounder shoulder and often counter strain in different parts of the body such as increased lower back pain and shortened hamstrings.
Joe Mitton, Personal Trainer at Mittfit recommends Yoga as ‘the perfect remedy for stiffness and tech neck.’
Wrinkles and dull skin
Wrinkles are a natural part of ageing, however certain habits such as squinting at a screen all day can increase the onset of premature lines forming beneath the surface of the skin, leading to wrinkles such as crows feet or frown lines.
Especially in poor light conditions, the blue light from your phone or laptop could be damaging your skin and causing you to squint.
Lacking in Vitamin D and B-12 due to reduced sunlight exposure can also result in pale, dull and malnourished looking skin.
Give blue light blocking glasses a go, take regular breaks – preferably outdoors – and keep your eyes hydrated.
Going without human contact and overworking for long periods of time can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which raises blood pressure and has harmful effects on physical health.
Kate Brierton, Clinical Psychologist, advises to ‘remind yourself that you need down-time so you can stay healthy and be the best version of yourself both at work and home.
‘Try to have a delineated home-working space if you can, ideally a separate room, but if that’s not possible, delineate the space with the way you lay out the furniture, use some house plants or pictures to mark your working space, or divide the floor space with a rug.
‘Set a reminder up on your phone or screen to take regular breaks, getting up and moving around, eating and drinking properly and getting outside for some physical exercise if possible.’
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