betty July 13, 2021

The past year has been a period of new norms: Mask wearing, hand sanitising and, perhaps the change that has impacted our lives the most, working from home (WFH). 

The perks of WFH are certainly aplenty – comfortable work wear and the lack of commuting come to mind. But while many may welcome this new arrangement, it also comes with some downsides, namely, aches, pains and ailments stemming from inactivity and being glued to your assigned work space at home. A recent US study1 found that working at home during the pandemic resulted in an increased risk for musculoskeletal problems (particularly those affecting the spine), with 36 per cent and 50 per cent of respondents suffering from neck pain and lower back pain, respectively.

If you find remote working has been a literal pain, here are three bad habits you may be guilty of – and the easy ways to reboot your work routine for a pain-free WFH experience.

As tempting as it may seem, resist the urge to work from the comfort of your bed or sofa. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Your work set-up is not conducive

Employees without an at-home desk often have to make do with the dining table as a makeshift office space. Spending hours hunched over the computer in these less-than-ideal work set-ups can be detrimental to your health2 as they may cause muscle and tendon strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and in more severe cases, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis over time.

A conducive working environment is key to providing maximum comfort while optimising productivity. As hard as it may seem, resist the temptation to work from the comfort of your bed or sofa! Invest in an ergonomic office chair that offers lumbar support, and a table where you can view your computer screen at a comfortable height without lowering or straining your neck. Good posture is also important. Guilty of slouching forward? Lean back instead so that some of your weight is supported by the chair backrest, and rest your feet flat on the floor or a foot support. Avoid crossing your legs at the knee. Do some exercises such as wiggling your feet and flexing your calves and ankles at regular intervals. This will get your blood flowing, which in turn, lowers the risk of blood clotting and deep vein thrombosis.

Clocking over 50 hours a week in front of the computer has led to many feeling the burnout of WFH. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

You spend too many hours in front of the computer

Companies may be concerned about decreased productivity and efficiency as their employees work remotely. But a recent study of 1,000 professionals across the region3 reported that about eight in 10 respondents felt more productive working from home. The downside: 44 per cent of respondents in Singapore said they are more likely to be working longer hours – with some clocking over 50 hours a week. Endless emails and interminable Zoom calls with little to no breaks can take a toll on one’s health – resulting in stress, anxiety, tension headaches, and migraines.

A few lifestyle changes can help to manage your stress levels and prevent burnout. First and foremost: Try to limit the use of electronic devices (easier said than done, we know!). Experts recommend the 20-20-20 rule4: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break by looking at an object 20 feet (six metres) away to rest your weary eyes. Failing that, invest in anti-glare screen protectors for your devices or a pair of blue light filter glasses to reduce the strain on your eyes. Schedule longer breaks throughout the day to stretch your limbs, meditate, do breathing exercises or make a cup of coffee.

At-home workouts may be all the rage but too much intense exercise can leave you feeling sore. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

You’re exercising too much (or too little)

Cabin fever getting you down? With the long hours cooped up at home, it’s no wonder that many are turning to exercise to work off all that pent-up energy – be it through online workouts, sessions at the gym or long runs outside. The endorphins after a workout may feel good but too much intense exercise can leave you feeling sore (also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), or worse, at risk of injury. 

On the flip side, working from home has also brought on another side effect – an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. Long hours seated in front of the computer has left many feeling unmotivated to exercise. The result: Poor blood circulation, stiff neck and limbs, and loss of muscle strength due to prolonged inactivity.

The simple solution here is to practise moderation. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week5. For fitness beginners, start small with light activities such as yoga and brisk walking to build up your stamina. As with every type of physical activity, warm up and warm down with light stretching to increase blood flow to the muscles and relieve any soreness. Most importantly, give yourself rest days in between workouts to allow your body to recover. 

A painkiller for quick relief

These tips and lifestyle habits can help improve your WFH situation. But for moments when you need fast and effective pain relief, reach for TYLENOL®.

As an iconic brand from the US, it has been a trusted name associated with offering pain relief solutions since 1955. This best-selling painkiller contains 500mg of paracetamol, and offers fast-acting relief to help with minor aches and pains such as headaches, fever, muscle and body aches, sprains and joint pain.

It is recommended that you take one to two tablets every four to six hours (and should not exceed eight in a day). TYLENOL® starts relieving pain in as quickly as 15 minutes and is said to be gentle on the stomach – making it suitable for adults and children over 12 years of age.

TYLENOL® 500mg is available at omni-commerce retailers Cold Storage, Giant, Guardian, FairPrice, Market Place by Jasons, Unity, Watsons, and on e-commerce platforms Amazon, Lazada, PandaMart, Qoo10, Redmart, and Shopee.

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This article provides general information only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult medical or healthcare professionals for advice on health-related matters and if pain persists.
1 Psychology Today, 2021
2 Gleneagles Hospital, 2020
3 Video streaming is the new norm for work, 2020
4 Computers, Digital Devices and Eye Strain, 2020 
5 Health Hub