How to relieve desk stress. It's time for Office Fitness
di Maria Serena Patriarca
If you feel sore, especially in the neck and back area, and lacking in vitality after many hours spent sitting at your desk in front of a computer, know that simple stretching and breathing techniques can help you not to finish the working day literally. “in pieces”. The Fitness Office comes from the USA, but it is already a trend in Europe too: simple exercises alternating with restorative breaks that can make our professional sedentary lifestyle more pleasant and healthy.
Just walk for a few minutes, or stretch the spine by making small circles with the neck to relieve cervical tension, for at least 3 minutes about every half hour, to counteract the unpleasant postural stress symptoms in the office or during smart working. This is what scholars from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm claim, highlighting how metabolism, blood pressure, posture and mood benefit from Office Wellness breaks.
For well-being in front of the desk, it is important that the PC screen is at eye level, so as not to strain the eyes and the neck muscles. The light should be as natural as possible, as well as keep some windows open for the recirculation of natural air, and cultivate a plant in the workplace, reserving a corner for relaxing herbal teas and infusions. A soft background of classical music while working is also highly recommended, for a calmer mood.
If you really can’t take a break every half hour, it is good to take a wellness break at least every hour and a half or two, to reduce the effects of sedentary lifestyle and prevent muscle pain, protrusions and herniated discs, as the experts suggest. To rebalance the shoulders and neck, put to the test by office work, the ideal is to put your hands behind the neck, without crossing your fingers: inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, slowly bringing the head back. In case of tension it is good to stop and slowly bring the head forward. The important thing is never to force the movement and repeat the exercise at least 5 times. On the other hand, those who experience discomfort in the lumbar area can take a moment of relief by placing their hands behind the lumbar area, in fact, and then inhale through the nose, exhaling from the mouth and at the same time closing the shoulder blades. Do not forget to stand up from time to time and lean on the desk with the front of the body, placing your hands behind the lumbar area: in this position you can inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth by extending the back, without moving the pelvis, and then return to the resting position. If, on the other hand, you want to improve blood circulation, whether sitting or standing, place your hand on the desk and lift your foot off the ground: bring the toe upwards, then downwards; finally, draw an outward and inward circle with the tip of your foot. Repeat with the other foot.
To find calm when we feel under stress, from the ancient wisdom of the Indian Swara tradition we can borrow the practice called Nadi Shodana (alternating nostril breathing), correctly applying the moments of retention of the breath to generate vitality in our energy system, rebalance the hemispheres and ensure a greater feeling of calm in moments of fatigue. You can start with your back straight and your eyes closed: you close the right nostril with your thumb, to slowly inhale and exhale through the left nostril. Then the left nostril closes and the right nostril opens, repeating the same breath. With this simple technique you will feel a regenerating sense of relaxation and greater mental clarity.