Here’s What a Day at Your Desk Does to You
Sitting at your desk all day might seem like a productive thing to do but in reality, it can have a negative impact on everything from your posture to your concentration. Here’s why and how to fix it.
Increased mental fatigue
Endless zooms, bouts of intense concentration, an inbox you can’t get on top of… the never-ending relay of daily tasks can be exhausting. Understandably this can take its toll on your brain. According to neuroscientists, after periods of intense brain activity, a toxic chemical called glutamate starts to circulate in the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for keeping us feeling focused and switched on. To avoid it circulating more, the brain moves into a low effort mode, the result of which is feelings of lethargy and cognitive fatigue. If you work long hours or from home where it’s hard to put boundaries in place, it can feel like you spend your days feeling zoned out. The best way to avoid this is to help make distinctions between your working day and the end of it. Have a clear ‘shut down’ policy where you close down your computer, tidy your desk in preparation for the following day and take ten minutes for some mind-clearing exercise such as meditation or a gentle walk.
Poor spinal health
Sitting down for long periods of time causes issues for your neck and upper back in particular, including tightness, stiffness and chronic pain. The seated position also encourages incorrect breathing, causing shallower chest breathing rather than healthy belly/diaphragmatic breathing. Posture is also compromised the more you sit, usually resulting in a forward head posture where your head isn’t in alignment with your spine. This puts stress on the muscles in the back and bottom of your neck, causing them to become stimulated and overworked.
Feelings of low energy
If you spend all day at your desk, it’s unlikely you’re getting much exercise which can lead to feeling depleted. Although it sounds contradictory if you’re feeling exhausted, low-intensity bouts of exercise can help to boost your energy levels and keep you feeling fresh and alert. It does this by boosting production of the mitochondria inside your muscle cells, special structures which turn the energy we take from food into energy that the cells can use. Combat feelings of inertia by incorporating regular exercise breaks into your day, even if it’s taking your calls while you walk.
Not enough exposure to vitamin D
If you spend too much time inside chained to your desk, chances are you won’t be getting enough vitamin D, especially between the months of April and September in the UK. Vitamin D is important because it helps improve brain development and function and ensures your intestine absorbs vital nutrients. It also helps regulate the immune system. If that’s you, ensure you eat a diet rich in vitamin D that includes oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon, as well as fortified cereals and shiitake mushrooms. It's also worth taking a good quality supplement which should give you between 400-800 IU each day.
Increased chances of dehydration
Unless you keep a well-stocked water bottle by your side when you work, chances are you’re not getting enough fluids during the day. When that happens, dehydration can quickly occur and is often the underlying cause behind mental and physical fatigue and loss of strength and stamina. Lack of fluids can also place stress on your circulatory system, affect short-term memory and impair psychomotor skills. To ward off dehydration, make sure you drink between 1.2 -1.5 litres or six to eight glasses of water a day. If you struggle to drink water on its own, mix a serving of Workshop’s Multi Vitamin Formula in. As well as a host of vitamins, it contains chelated minerals, mineral amino acid chelates for optimal absorption, bioavailability, and utilisation by the body.