10 rules for charming your computer
Few of us can avoid working in front of a computer nowadays, for at least part of the day if not all day long. A good desk arrangement and a few simple little measures will allow you to work in perfect harmony with this trusty office essential.
1. Sit in the correct position
First off, it is essential to sit in the correct position in front of your computer. This will allow you to minimise the problems of visual fatigue. Ideally, the screen should be slightly leaning back and placed at a distance of about 50 to 70cm from you, which is about the distance you need in order to be able to brush the screen with your finger tips when stretching your arms out. It is also recommended that the top of the screen reaches eye level, except if you have a large screen.
2. Choosing a good screen
Your vision is put under strain. Choose a good screen with anti-glare and think about adjusting the brightness according to the type of work you are doing (documents, images etc). Be careful of the surrounding lighting as well, and avoid putting the screen opposite or next to a window, which will cause glare and add reflection to your screen.
3. Choose a good chair and get comfy!
You are going to work for hours in this sitting position, and this can lead to the muscles in your neck, shoulders and back becoming contracted. You will reduce this risk if you take the precaution of sitting comfortably at the back of your chair, with knees preferably at the same level as your hips. Use a foot rest if you are petite, or a higher desk top.
4. Think about protecting your wrists
Repetitive work in front of a screen can encourage musculoskeletal problems with your upper limbs and these are becoming more and more widespread. Wrists are particularly prone to these problems, but they also affect hands and shoulders to. To prevent this issue, put your keyboard at a distance of 10-15cm from the edge of the desk top and try to work with elbows at right angles, avoiding any bending of the wrists, leaning them on the desk top. Choose a mouse that suits the size of your hand, and avoid gripping it too tightly as this could provoke musculoskeletal problems in the fingers. Finally, put all documents that you are going to be using most often close to the computer.
5. Take regular breaks
Visual fatigue, headaches and eye problems can all appear if you do not take breaks from working regularly. Doctors in New Zealand have just described a case of phlebitis complicated by pulmonary embolism after the patient had been sitting down for a prolonged period in front of a computer. Regular breaks, but not necessarily very long ones, are therefore recommended. You should not go for more than two hours without moving. Make the most of this break by getting up and getting a glass of water.
6. Remember to drink!
If the room is too hot this can contribute towards making your eyes drier and can also harm your blood circulation, so remember to drink enough water! This will also help you not to drink too much coffee or head for a cigarette break when you are stressed.
7. Eliminating stress factors
It’s time to deal with stress. Of course, this is easier said than done. However, as much as possible, try not to work under too much stress. It has, in fact, been proved that stress increases the probability of the appearance of musculoskeletal problems. Do not overestimate your ability to work and try to organise yourself better so you free up more time. If you can, vary the tasks you have to do that day.
8. Do some exercises...
There’s nothing like a few physical exercises for relaxing the neck, back, fingers and wrists. During your breaks, rotate your wrists a few times. Stretch your back as if you were going to touch the ceiling and wiggle your neck from side to side. Roll your shoulders forward and back.
9. ...and give your eyes a workout too!
Eye exercises are just as useful. Without moving your head, look down and then up about ten times. Do the same while looking as far as possible to the right and then to the left. This prevents vision fatigue.
10. If you experience any problems, consult a doctor
Working on a computer does not automatically lead to eye trouble perhaps, but it does play an undeniable part in encouraging the increase of anomalies connected with the vision. If you often feel stinging in your eyes or feel like you can’t see properly, talk to a doctor about your work habits. Tests will allow your vision to be assessed and it will be clear whether or not you need glasses or contact lenses.
Finally, do not put up with pain in your wrists or in your back for months. Some treatments will allow these aches and pains to be relieved.
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