A Note from TeriLeigh
Years ago, I enlisted the help of a dear friend and colleague to write weekly posts for my blog. At the time, I was inconsistent in my posting, and I wanted my blog to have a regular post. She offered just that, for well over a year. I was eternally grateful to her, and she has gone on to build her own blog and business as a thriving and talented yoga teacher.
Recently, a writer approached me with the request/offer to submit a guest post for my blog. She said she was fascinated by mindfulness and wanted to build her portfolio. I admired her tenacity and her passion. Although her writing style and tone does not match the spiritual and personal approach I strive for on Mindfulness Online Academy, her message is educational and valuable. As I am always one to promote 'the little guy' and support other solo-preneurs, and I have a soft spot in my heart for any writer who wants to write more, I hope you enjoy her contribution to this blog.
As most of the working world moved into remote setups, people have become more familiar with the concept and application of ergonomics in workspaces. Ergonomics is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” It plays a key role in making our experience of working life and personal endeavors more effective as well as comfortable. Today, ergonomic equipment has flooded the market, often in the form of chairs, backrests, desks, and even keyboards. While these all help to provide support for physical needs, mindfulness should also be at play. Mindfulness involves being aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and the surrounding environment. It plays a significant role in work to reintroduce focus and stimulation that are often lost when employees simply go through the motions of work. This awareness of what the body and mind do while working is called ergonomic mindfulness, a practice that proves to be essential in the changing work landscape and beyond.
Ergonomic Mindfulness and Why It Matters
When you’re tapping away at your keyboard, the work you do and how your body does it are equally important. Too often we realize the ill-effects of bad ergonomics when it manifests as pain in our bodies, a problem that mindfulness can easily prevent. Employees are also increasingly finding themselves merely going through the motions on projects that were once exciting. Reports show that engagement scores have fallen 16% since the start of the pandemic – employees are increasingly finding it harder to perform and contribute to their organization’s goals. Addressing this disconnect is crucial in preventing performance issues, safety incidents, and overall employee wellbeing. There are several tips on ergonomic mindfulness that can vastly improve the way you work and, more importantly, how you think and feel while doing so.
1. Observe Your Posture
The first thing that comes to mind when applying ergonomics to workstations is proper posture. Many ergonomic tools are designed to promote healthy body positions when working. This entails learning and re-learning what your neutral positions are, so experiment to see what works best. Do you prefer working close to the computer but end up slouching? Is it an issue to do with your monitor’s position or your desk’s height? Be sure to take note. A good way to keep your posture in check is to adopt the habit of self-scanning regularly. Mind how your most vulnerable body parts feel, starting with the neck, across the shoulders, down the back, and even on your knees. If anything feels off balance, then it’s probably time to adjust your posture.
2. Make Small Changes
Use mindfulness techniques to adopt a “small changes” ergonomic mindset. It shifts the emphasis away from the negative effects of a single, big task to the equally taxing smaller actions that can build stress in the body. Consider how much energy is wasted from stacking cushions on your chair daily to finding pens in a messy drawer. By being mindful of these negative environmental forces from the get-go, you can make changes in the ergonomics of your space to unload and prevent an accumulation of physical and mental stress.
3. Apply Minimal Effort Required
Physical injuries and mental fatigue can occur when people wrongly estimate the amount of effort required to complete a task. And when one needlessly overexerts to get the job done, stress, exhaustion, and demotivation are likely to follow. Ergonomic mindfulness teaches people how to assess the minimal force and effort required to efficiently perform a job, both in its physical and mental aspects, so that accomplishing the task is easier overall. Ergonomic mindfulness teaches us how to be aware of the way we work and enables us to achieve more. Methods for mindfulness can connect the physical body with one’s mental state and the external environment to create a holistic path to wellbeing. And with ergonomics so essential in our work and personal lives, it only makes sense that we start from here.
Ms. A. Cooper is a freelance writer and an advocate for mental health and wellness. She is passionate about employee wellness in the workplace. She enjoys reading novels during her free time.