I am quite sure it is safe to say that you, who are staring at a screen right now, are an awesome web designer or at least trying to do your best to become one.
Well, nothing wrong with that at all, in fact if I were standing next to you right now, I would definitely tap you on the shoulder and give you a cookie for all the effort you put into it.
But even though it all sounds just wonderful, I am here to tell you that there is a big, big problem. There is something massively wrong with the way people these days (yes, including you!) maintain the most important machine they own – their body and its health.
It’s not just about getting physical activity in your life,… Just because you’re doing 30 minutes of physical activity, what about the other 23.5 hours.
– Dr Peter T Katzmarzyk
Today you should feel very fortunate, because I myself am so, so passionate about having a healthy and active lifestyle that I decided to give you a little insight into very basic, yet important steps to avoid these every day health mistakes we make.
Changing Your Mindset Will Save Your Career
￼￼I Just Had To Face The Problem Itself – It Was My Own Fault © Bill Dimmick
A few years ago I changed the way I was making my living, something that did not make me smile at all. Unfortunately these changes required me to spend a lot of my time in front of a computer screen.
After all of that I was left with back ache, neck ache, pain in my wrists, damaged eyesight and even my nerves suffered, not mentioning another unpleasant addition to my body – a very sexy pot belly (yeah right, dream on about a six pack).
What was going on in my head? Complaining? Moaning? Or maybe even quitting my job?
None of it! I just had to face the problem itself – it was my own fault. My mindset was totally wrong.
I changed my mindset about health. I took it so serious that now I can proudly say that even the smallest health issue, caused by having to stare at a computer screen and sit on an office chair all day is gone!
1. Stress From… Well… Doing Nothing
￼￼You Are The Only One Who Can Make Any Changes In Your Life © Vic
Now, in all fairness guys, do you really consider your lifestyle active and healthy enough just by clicking a computer mouse or tapping on your keyboard?
Well, I really hope not, instead I really hope you realize yourself when you need that extra fitness class, workout session or a quick sprint down the street.
Even if you are totally aware of the lack of fitness in your life, nothing will change on its own. You are the only one who can make any changes in your life.
While you are still only thinking about doing something to add that important fitness activity level to your life, rather than actually taking the first step towards it, something known as stress and depression will sneak into your life sooner rather than later.
And do not be surprised when stress and depression develop even further. You can end up with a bunch of very unnecessary health problems, like heart disease, ulcers, anxiety, etc.
Only One Step to Become Relaxed and Full of Energy
And of course by now you understand that the first important step to take is exercising. But please remember that it does not have to be all or nothing.
What I mean is do not mess it all up by forcing yourself to run a marathon or start an Olympic training program tomorrow after spending years without exercising at all. It will put you off it all together.
Start by doing anything from walking, jogging, taking a dog for a walk, doing yoga or cycling, to something more advanced like sprinting or rock climbing. That should keep stress, depression and anxiety miles away from you.
2. Always Be Nice to Your Forearms
￼￼Obviously You Want To Feel Relaxed, But Do Not Slouch In Your Chair © Meena Kadri
Have you ever heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? It sounds very nasty, you would say, and to be honest with you, it is. This syndrome affect everyone from office workers to someone like… yes, you guessed it – web designers and developers.
Typical symptoms are soreness, tingling, numbness and itching. It is mainly caused by too much typing.
It is Not Hard to Avoid
Try to keep your wrists slightly curved and off the bottom frame of the keyboard. Obviously you want to feel relaxed when working, but do not slouch in your chair, sit with your feet flat on the floor.
Exactly like your body needs some exercise and stretching now and again, make sure you move your fingers, wrists and your hands, as well as stretch their tendons.
Another tip I can give you is to tuck in your elbows next to your side. By doing that you will provide your fingers with a more consistent platform and your wrists will not be twisted.
3. Sleep Like a Baby, I Mean It
￼￼Take Away Good Quality Sleep and I Guarantee You Will Burn Out. Photo by Minoru Nitta
Imagine having a candle on your desk right now. When you light this candle up it surely looks nice and can be very useful. But as you understand, after only a few hours all you would have left on your desk would be a nice pile of candle wax.
It would just literally burn out. This may come to you as a surprise, but you can burn out as fast as that candle, if not even faster in some cases. Take away good quality sleep from your body and I guarantee you will burn out one day.
In the past I have caught myself face down on my keyboard having a few brief dreams. Have you ever caught yourself bobbing your head or not paying attention? Maybe just wanting to have some cheeky shuteye in the office, otherwise known as power nap.
Believe me, there is no chance of you becoming an awesome web designer if your Photoshop stays open for 8 hours, but all you can manage to get done in that space of time is open the colour palette. And that is exactly what would happen, because your body will crave some good quality sleep, so you’ll constantly have episodes of micro-sleeps.
Just Kick Your Snoring Spouse Out of Bed
To make sure you do not turn into a bobble-head all I can suggest is to consider your environment. If it really is your spouse who snores, that disrupts your beautiful night sleep, well, just practice some good kicking moves and one morning your spouse will “accidentally” be found on the floor (you did not see that coming, did you?).
Ok, ok just because I am one harsh and nasty human being, it does not mean you have to be one too. More likely having a chat with your spouse about it would solve the problem much faster and with a much better ending.
Every adult needs approximately seven to eight hours of good quality night sleep. Other disruptions around you that may affect your time of sweet dreams include room temperature and air quality, noises made by babes, noisy streets or even your neighbours making love.
4. Damaged Eyesight is Not Fun
￼In Many Cases There Can Be Something More Complicated Behind It. © David Joyce
Damaged eyesight is a serious problem. In many cases there can be something more complicated behind it.
One of the most common conditions is asthenopia or often simply called eye strain. This condition itself might not always be as noticeable as other conditions, because it manifests itself through nonspecific symptoms as fatigue, pain in, or around, the eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and occasional double vision.
It is caused by some of the everyday tasks we do. When we have to concentrate on something visually intense, like staring at a computer screen all day long, or even using an old CRT type of computer monitor for a little while, can cause very similar eye problems.
No Eyes, No Web Design. Look After Them
Now I can give you some tips that will help you look after your eyes. First of all, eye exams are there for a reason, right? So having a routine comprehensive eye exam would be a great start.
Having eye exams done now and again will prevent or even treat computer vision problems. I would recommend having an eye exam at least once a year.
Like exercising your body, you can (you have to) exercise your eyes too. After constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer for at least 20 seconds, out the window or look at the picture on the wall.
Do not just start using your mobile phone instead (it is another screen at the end of the day). And make sure you do this exercise at least every 20 minutes.
Even blinking more often can help a lot, as it moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. And last, but not least – use appropriate lighting. Candle light would definitely not be the best idea.
5. Take Even the Smallest Back Pain Seriously
￼￼Your Back Will Never Forgive You All Those Prolonged Hours Sitting In an Office Chair © I Stole The TV
Hey, what if I asked you now to count how many hours today you already have spent sitting in that irresistibly comfortable (I know, I know, not always so comfy) office chair of yours?
Listen carefully now, your back will never forgive you for all those prolonged hours sitting in an office chair. First thing you will notice will be low back pain followed by neckaches and more serious spinal problems.
Just to let you know, sitting in general is a very static position, which increases stress in the back and neck, as well as adds large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.
So here you go – all the big “rocket science” of back pain explained to you in one little paragraph.
Use Your Office Chair Properly to Avoid Back Pain
If possible, always establish your desired desk height. I understand that not everyone has one of those expensive adjustable office desks. At least, follow my guidelines for office chair setup and that would be better than nothing.
Sit as close as possible to your desk, having your upper arms positioned in parallel with your spine. Keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle and let your hands rest on your keyboard or desktop.
You can check if the height of your office chair is adjusted correctly. If you are able to do it with ease then the height is just right.
Your chair should have a cushion, which when your bottom is pressed against the back of your chair causes your lower back to arch. Always check you are not slouching forwards or slumping.
6. Computers can be a Real Headache
￼￼Computer Screens Are Also Behind Many Headaches © Rich Moore
As essential as they are, computer screens are also behind many headaches. The more we use them, the more headaches we get.
These headaches can be caused by the heater, air conditioning, eye strain, general stress from your job, or emissions from the fax machine and photocopier.
Beat Your Headache
Being stressed is definitely a massive headache producer. If it really is stress, which causes your discomfort, you can try to destress yourself.
If you are interested in meditation it would definitely make a difference and your headaches would start to disappear. But there are also more simple and basic steps to destress yourself.
Try to relax by thinking about something good that recently happened to you. Or even something completely opposite. Try deep breathing, at the same time “switching your mind off,” just thinking about nothing at all.
And by the way, very often bad neck causes major headaches too. So gently stretching it for a couple of minutes will loosen up your neck.
Being dehydrated will not do you any favours either. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will rehydrate you. Remember to drink at least 1.2 litres of water a day.
So The Conclusion Is…
￼￼We Can Always Achieve More When Making Changes Together © Konstantin Zamkov
In these days, when nearly anything we do requires computers, unfortunately we cannot afford to just throw them out in order to save our health.
And not only that, most of us now spend our whole working day sitting down – which could be killing us.
The Human Body was Not Designed to be Motionless for Hours
All the muscles in our body are designed to be active. They will certainly waste away if we go long periods without using them.
Now when you have something to think about regards your body and its health, more likely you will finally understand how raising this issue is and will do something about it.
And do not be ashamed to discuss this matter with your friends and colleagues. We can always achieve more when making changes together.
Now I Want to Hear from You (yes, I care)
How active and healthy would you say your lifestyle is?
And if the situation is not as good as you would like it to be, are you doing something to fix it? Share your experience.
Jimmy has been a Graphic Designer for over 7 years. He uses various methods to create and combine words, symbols and images to create the visual representation of ideas and messages.