On some days it seems preposterous to even think about taking a break. Work is piled up as high as the ceiling. Projects are behind the deadline. Taking a break? No can do or I won’t ever finish it all.

But especially in these hectic days, you have to take regular breaks. Not just to keep your sanity, but to stay healthy.

Therefore I’d like to tell you my painful experience of sitting at the desk for too long.

The media regularly reports that sitting at the desk is hazardous to one’s health. And yet most people spend their working days sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen. I’m no exception. What happens when you’re sitting at a desk for 8+ hours in a bad posture, I have experienced myself one day unfortunately.

Work till you drop

I’ve always had trouble with a tense neck. Because of that I didn’t really worry about the pain in my neck after work. “It’ll pass”, I thought. A few days later I could barely fall asleep. No matter in which position I lay, it hurt. And again I thought, “It’ll pass”. And it did after a while and I was relieved.

But soon my right hand, the one I’m using the computer mouse with, started hurting. I was familiar with that kind of pain in my left hand from drawing too much. An orthopedic surgeon prescribed rest and an elastic bandage back then, so I put on that bandage and continued working more with keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse. That’ll be working out well or so I thought.

And I thought wrong. My fingertips started prickling uncomfortably, even up to my elbow. The same thing in my left hand. Every small movement became painful. So much so that I lost the strength in my hands. I couldn’t even raise my coffee mug. That made me go see a doctor. The first question of the orthopedic surgeon after I told him my about my pains was “Do you want to continue working in this profession?”. Oh damn… I had to swallow very hard. He put me on sick leave for two weeks and prescribed physical therapy. And let me tell you, two weeks are a long time when you cannot do anything with your hands.

I was lucky to have a great physiotherapist, who worked on me twice a week. After two sessions the prickling and the pain got better. And after completing the therapy I was without pain for quite some time.

Notice the signals of your body and give it the rest it needs

This incident showed me how important it is to listen to your body and take breaks, when your body demands it. My neck is still tense every once in awhile, but it didn’t turn so bad that I couldn’t use my hands anymore. I also started doing exercises to strengthen the muscles in addition to my daily progressive muscle relaxation routine. And thanks to the Pomodoro – Technik stehe ich jetzt alle 25 Minuten von Schreibtisch auf, um mich zu strecken und ein wenig zu bewegen.

I leave my desk every 25 minutes to stretch myself and move around.

I hope you’re not making the same mistake that I did. Get up, get outside and take a break. Even if your time doesn’t allow it. Otherwise you might not be able to continue working one day.

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