Numerous studies suggest that the average adult in the United States spends ⅓ of their life at work. This number is only increasing as people take extra hours due to a declining economy or are forced to work overtime. While everyone knows working too much can cause stress, few realize that common elements in the workplace can also be harming you physically and mentally. Here are the most common problems with the average workplace and how they can be treated or avoided.
Poor Air Quality
Poor air quality is the bane of everyone’s existence and something that exists in most offices, garages, and outdoor environments. This happens naturally since many workplaces combine tons of people with body odor, perfume, allergens from the outdoors and pets, diseases and germs, and even molecules from toxic chemicals used for cleaning, printing, and other basic functions. Some studies even suggest humans breathe in a ton of toxins just in regular office spaces because of cleaners, ink, and some of the old carpeting in office buildings. Nobody wants to deal with this stress on top of trying to make money to feed and support themselves and their families.
All of this airborne junk can worsen allergies and asthma, and make you call in sick more often. Something good for your workspace is to install a dehumidifier to filter out unwanted contaminants from the air you breathe. Many models can be set up right next to a desk and are small and quiet. Keeping a fan and healthy growing plants near you are also good ideas to improve air quality since you can push unwanted air away and filter out some contaminants with plants. The dehumidifier will also eliminate unwanted moisture in the air, which is great for those who live in muggy areas such as the American Southeast and Northwest.
Computer screens are just a fact of life for most jobs, including designers, HR employees, salespeople, and even cashiers. Unfortunately, they cause a lot of eye strain since human eyes were not meant to stare directly at light and screens are always backlit. Thankfully, the light that emits from computer screens does not possess enough radiation to cause issues like cataracts, but the light does cause muscle strain and can irritate the eyes, causing dryness, itchiness, and other forms of irritation.
To combat this problem, use a blue light filter to tone down the harshness of the brightness and take frequent breaks. Some manufacturers also sell special glasses that can be worn while working on the computer to also block blue light and errant radiation. Every half hour, look away for five minutes and do something with no screens – this means no looking at your phone! Your eyes will thank you and won’t weaken as early in life.
Stress on the Body
Workspaces today are full of modern ills on the human body. Humans are animals that were meant to be in constant motion, not sitting at desks or hunched over working on machines. Even simple activities like typing cause muscle damage and joint pain, including the ever feared carpal tunnel. The areas most prone to damage will naturally be the joints that see the most use – including the wrists and knuckles – as well as the spine. Spinal injuries and back pain are surprisingly common, so it’s important to correct your posture as much as possible and avoid lifting heavy objects from your back instead of your knees.
To improve other aspects of your workspace, raise your keyboard so you’re not bent, invest in a standing desk, and go for frequent walks and stretches to keep your muscles in shape. It’s also a good idea to exercise outside of your office to make sure muscles are stretched and strong. Your body will be happy and healthy, and you won’t be in as much pain as you would be otherwise.
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