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Being a freelance designer has its own pros and cons. You get to work from the comfort of your own home, but this does not mean that you are safe. The most obvious disadvantage is that you won’t be getting outside enough or enough Vitamin D. Since you work long, irregular hours and spend too much time in front of the computer, you are more prone to certain health problems than the rest of the population. Here are the most common health problems that designers suffer–and what you should do to treat them.
Tension headaches are a common health problem suffered by many people, not just designers. Tension headaches affect more than 78% of the population. Common causes of this health problem are staying in one position doing the same thing such as using a computer. Other common causes include stress, fatigue, eye strain, anxiety and physical inactivity. Notice that most causes are how you often describe a typical designer’s job: hours of work in front of the computer and non-stop pressure. If the headache bothers you for longer than two weeks, you may have developed a chronic tension headache. If it occurs on an occasional basis, it may be an episodic tension headache.
Tension headaches are often hard to read and thus often neglected and difficult to treat. For starters, an obvious symptom is if there is a tightness on the neck and scalp muscles. You may have pain in the head, scalp and neck area–like a tight band has been placed across your head. Often, the pain starts at the back of the head and spreads forward.
There’s not much to fear, though. Although tension headaches can get painful, these are rarely a symptom of a more serious illness. You only need a few changes in your diet and lifestyle will reduce any more tension headaches in the future. Of course if the headaches become more frequent, it may be an indication of a severe medical problem like a brain tumor or aneurysm. See a doctor for further evaluation.
Once again, tension headaches don’t normally require a visit to the doctor, as they normally go away after a few hours. Here are a few natural ways to remedy the problem:
Fatigue is the state of feeling tired and weary that stretches from a day to a few months. Fatigue can be acute or chronic. Being a graphic or web designer entails long and irregular work hours. High pressure jobs are more prone to fatigue, and this means us designers as well. Work-related factors such as long hours of work, strenuous mental or physical activity are leading causes for fatigue.
Symptoms include sleepiness (accidentally sleeping against your will), tiredness throughout the day, irritability, depression, giddiness, etc. Fatigue generally affects your overall work performance and productivity because your decision making, communication and planning skills are reduced. There is an inability to recall instructions and details. Creativity is killed by fatigue. There is reduced reaction time–similar to what you feel when drunk.
Designers are especially prone to computer eye strain; Spending most of their work hours in front of the computer. Prolonged use of the PC can lead to eye strain, migraines, blurred vision and other visual problems. It can even put you at risk of glaucoma.
Symptoms of computer eye strain include: headache during or after computer use, dry eyes, slow focusing when looking at near and far objects, blurred vision and doubling of vision. This may be coupled with neck and back pain and pain in the wrists and shoulders while working on the PC.
Stress is a common enemy for designers. Some react to it in a good way, some in bad, others in worse. Stress comes when there are major life changes in work, home or relationships. Tremendous amounts of stress can keep you awake at night, triggering stress-related insomnia.
Obviously, if you have insomnia, you have difficulty sleeping. Other symptoms of stress-related insomnia include change in your sleeping pattern or body clock; a nagging headache, stiff neck or back ache; rapid breathing, fatigue, irritability and sweaty palms.
Because sleep is so vital for one’s overall health, insomnia can greatly affect your work ethic and productivity. You become more hot-headed, mentally slower, less productive and tired throughout the day.
Neck and Shoulder pain is a result from sitting in the same position when working, and it’s especially associated with anyone who works with computers. This can lead to bad posture, as well as pain in the back, chest, arms, hips, thighs and legs. Neck and shoulder pain can increase fatigue and tensed muscles, eventually leading to more serious problems like major tissue injury, spinal joint dysfunction, etc.
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Rachel Arandilla is a curious subject -- she appreciates things that are quirky & clever. She loves spontaneity and adventure. She is a carefree soul, has a deep love for travel, culture and languages. And she's beginning to wonder she keeps on referring to herself in third person perspective.