I get it now. I get why people keep little plants in their offices, buy ergonomic furniture, and fill the corners of their desks with photos. Adjusting to post-grad life (and full time employment) was a bigger challenge than I ever imagined. I worked 40+ hour weeks throughout undergrad, but my time was spread across two offices, multiple responsibilities, and woven into my class schedule. When I took my first full time job, I never realized how much life would change. On average, I spend more time in my office than I do in my own living room or kitchen. I sit stationary at my desks for 8+ hours at a time. Since my work is digital and creative in nature, I’ve become the worst at stopping for lunch breaks and mental reprieves. My office is my secondary home, and I’ve realized you have to do everything in your power to make it a comfortable space to both live and work.
After dressing up the walls with some paint and some canvases (I have pretty flexible employer), I finally felt like the space was my own and that I was excited to turn the key everyday. Despite the cosmetic adjustments I made to my office, I made few changes to my work routine and did not consider the toll such tedious work and poor posture took on my body. In my opinion, work place culture is physical, spatial, and emotional. If you neglect one part, your contribution to the larger operation suffers. Fast forward to last month, I’m sitting in an urgent treatment center with throbbing pain from over-use of my hand on the computer and devices. I’m now in a brace for several weeks to stabilize my motion and hopefully prevent long-term pain or the need for surgery. Further, my neck and back throbbed every night after a day’s work and I wasn’t taking any measures to release the tension.
I never previously considered massage therapy a solution to workplace stress and self care needs. I used to think massages were exclusively for luxury and were a superfluous purchase. I also didn’t believe it was valuable to pay someone to relieve tension when I could have my boyfriend rub my shoulders for free. The first time I had a professional massage, I purchased a 60 minute session on Groupon for $20. You could say I needed some convincing to fork over what I still consider the big bucks. After my initial consultation and massage, I was floored. Parts of my body were sensitive and awake as if I had never felt or used certain muscles before. The experience had me scrambling to the internet to figure out how I could afford to get a massage every month. Obviously, a massage therapist attends school and is trained to be an expert in the body and its needs. I didn’t understand the value of such therapy until I experienced it at The Therapy Centers. I’m incredibly grateful for therapists who are kind, listen, and make the process about both learning and relaxing. I wholly believe in the value of massage therapy as an essential part of wellness. Listen to your body! What is it telling you about your work/life balance?
Tips for a Positive Work/Life Balance
- Keep work at work. If your work space is also your home, try to dedicate a specific area to your job so that there is separation between work and home life.
- Talk to your employer about workplace flexibility opportunities.
- Explore new strategies for stress management and relaxation including apps or websites that track your progress.
- Keep a small variety of healthy snacks nearby to give yourself shorter breaks if an hour lunch isn’t feasible.
- Bring personality to your work space through photos, quotes, or paintings that resonate with you.
- Use your vacation time annually. Sitting on unused hours may be more detrimental than taking time to distance yourself from work.
- Don’t respond to emails outside of business hours as often as possible. Protect your time at home and with loved ones.
- Consult a doctor about ergonomic supplies or furniture that allow you to safely and efficiently complete work tasks particularly in positions that require desk-sitting for extended periods.
- Explore massage therapy as means of stress reduction and physical self care.
- Talk to your employer or HR manager to hear their strategies or suggestions for establishing a healthy work/life balance in your industry.
This post is sponsored by The Therapy Centers in Lexington, KY.