If you have a desk job like I do, it can often feel like eight plus hours of our day are down the drain for staying fit. I’ve tried a standing desk, a walking desk and sitting on a stabilizer ball, but at the end of the day, I need to sit and concentrate to do my job. The physical burden of sitting can be compounded by a number of additional impacts, including eye strain and stress. I try to combat these challenges and relieve stress with several small items that I keep at my desk every day.
1. Computer Glasses
When I had my first internship in college and spent an entire day staring at a computer screen, it wasn’t long before I started experiencing eye fatigue. Focusing on the monitor by 4 pm became a struggle, and midway through the summer my eye doctor prescribed me reading glasses. For years, I used them, slipping them on as soon as I got to work, peeking over the tops of them to see coworkers dropping by my desk. Recently, I discovered glasses designed specifically for the computer, which include both a small far-sighted prescription and a tinted lens that blocks blue light.
I bought a pair of Felix Gray glasses and after just a few weeks, I noticed a difference. I visited the eye doctor, who told me that I could drop from the +0.75 prescription I’d used for years to +0.25. After a couple of months, I noticed that I wasn’t dealing with my eyes slipping out of focus at the end of the day nearly as often, a problem I’d had for about ten years. Even if you don’t have eye strain now, filtering the blue light without any prescription can be a good preventive measure to keep your eyesight strong far into the future. Although I love my Felix Gray glasses, there are tons of brands out there with a wide range in prices and styles.
2. Lavender Oil
I have a few friends who are well known to keep peppermint and lavender oil in their bags at all times. I never quite understood the value of essential oils until I started keeping lavender oil at my desk. Now, whenever I’m on a stressful conference call or trying to find the kink in my program (Oh, did I not mention I analyze data during the day? #nerdalert), I dab a few drops of lavender oil on my temples or rub it between my hands and inhale. I feel transported to savasana in my favorite yoga class and it’s the quickest way to calm my anxious mind.
3. Foot Hammock
When my coworker was pregnant, she was having trouble with foot swelling, so I ordered a foot hammock for her and decided to order one for myself, too. I’ve always been more comfortable with my feet up (an old roommate used to tease me that the chair across from me at the dinner table was always dirty from my feet … oops) and now that I can keep my feet up at work I’ve found it to relieve pressure from my knees. Having my feet out straight also encourages me to sit up taller, which helps with low back pain. Don’t have a spot to hang a foot hammock? Try a footstool or a box under your desk.
4. Fidget Toys
This one I learned from my dad, who has always kept various toys on his desk. There are tons of fidget toys out there for those of us who can’t stop moving even when our brain is working hard. Although fidget spinners are particularly popular among kids trying to keep their attention in school, they can be great for adults who need the same impact of staying focused for hours on end. Since my workplace is an open concept, I try to only use fidget toys that don’t make a lot of sound (unlike the clicking of a pen, which was my go-to before)!
I’m terrified of the dentist, so I’ll do anything to avoid a trip. I keep floss at my desk and try to make a bathroom run after meals to floss my teeth. Doing so can prevent gingivitis, cavities and general discomfort when your kale salad ends up between your teeth. Keeping floss at your desk means you never have to think twice about how you’ll get all the poppy seeds out of your teeth before a big meeting or a post-work date night. Just remember to bring it into the bathroom so you don’t have bacteria flung around your workspace.
What do you keep at your desk to relieve stress and pains of your nine-to-five?