September is National Pain Awareness Month

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The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) declared this month in 2001 to “raise public awareness of issues in the area of pain and pain management”.

Did you know that 80% of the population suffer from neck or back pain? It’s true, and a high number of this group live in some form of daily chronic pain.

Job injuries contribute to this number, and there are high risk occupations such as construction and nursing. However not all pain is due to jobs with demanding physical activity. In addition, not all pain is brought on by some sort of personal accident.

The cause of pain include a wide range of factors, however the treatment for pain and pain management techniques are widely available today. Some include; Acupuncture, Physical Therapy, Massage Therapy, TENS units, Chiropractic, Medications, and even everyday ordinary exercise can help to alleviate pain.

Doctors used to suggest bed rest for back and other types chronic pain. More recently, studies have found that people who exercise and stay flexible will manage their pain better than those who don’t. “Exercise improves your pain threshold” says Trent Nessler, PT, DPT, MPT, vice president with Champion Sports Medicine in Birmingham, AL.

It is best to check with your doctor for your particular exercise program, but keep moving. Whatever you choose; walking, swimming, yoga or another form of exercise, movement keeps your joints lubricated and more flexible. Exercise keeps your muscles stronger, and staying active is good for your mental health as well.

Food for Thought

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I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about food and how it affects our cognitive abilities, our productivity and our overall well-being while working.

There are a lot of new diet’s surfacing to help us lose weight and feel more energized. Everywhere you turn, Facebook, in newspaper articles and on the internet.  And of course there are the old tried and true diets. Less carbs and sugars, high protein and veggies, the Zone, fasting diets, food combining diets, just to mention a few.

It is pretty well known that what we put into our bodies is either going to fuel, heal and nourish us, or what we eat will, slow down our metabolism and cause our bodies stress and harm.

My question is why we don’t choose the first rather than the latter, especially during the work day when we need to be alert, productive and less stressed. I tend to believe it boils down to one of two things (1) bad habits, or (2) lack of preparation.

Eating in a manner that will have a positive effect on our mind and body does require preparation if bringing food to the workplace, and discipline if we are going to eat out.

So in closing here is some “food for thought”. Why not approach our food intake the same way we approach our jobs? Prioritize, set goals, make a plan, monitor and even add to or delete.  After all, we are worth it!

Getting Your Ducks In A Row, Time Saving or Time Wasted?

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This is a question I ask myself often at the beginning of a work week. It seems no matter how I leave projects at my desk on Friday, on Monday I feel a great compulsion to re-organize and re-prioritize my desk and my schedule for the upcoming week.

Truth be known, I can spend a lot of time organizing, cleaning and looking over last week’s list.  Some may say that I am wasting time, why not just jump in and start somewhere. What’s the point in checking or double checking the projects and list left on the desk on Friday?

Actually there is a point. Organizing, rechecking your “to-do-list” and projects from the previous week can aid in a stress free work day. What you may have thought was the priority at the end of last week can look different after time away from the office. Thus what you might have been stressing over on Friday may be moved further down the list or even removed.

As a Certified Ergonomic Consultant, I help my clients focus on increasing productivity, job safety, while reducing stress and fatigue. Though much of this is related to your body mechanics, job habits, and your personal work station, stress has multiple other sources. One source of stress is the way we approach a task when we have not scheduled breaks during the day, or have not stepped away from the project to gain new clarity and vision.

Getting you ducks in a row; re-organizing, re-prioritizing, taking breaks and stepping away from projects to regain clarity and vision, is diffidently time saving and will help reduce daily stress and fatigue. 

How to Setup A Workspace to Increase Productivity & Creativity

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It is possible to set up your workspace in a manner that actually aids in increasing your productivity and creativity. By following these few tips below you can begin to experience a happier and healthier workday.

Sit, Stand or Sit/Stand Desk:

The style of desk you choose is important, it does need to fit you properly for good ergonomics. However, whether you choose a sit or sit-stand desk is only a part of maximizing good ergonomics. The key is to avoid long periods of stagnant postures. Motion is key; taking breaks every hour or changing positions often will aid in blood flow, brain function, increased productivity and creativity.

Lighting:

Bright overhead lighting or light behind you monitor are both concerns for headaches, eyestrain, fatigue and lack of concentration. Changing the placement of your monitor, back lighting or bright overhead lighting will decrease or eliminate the negative effects of poor lighting conditions.

Everything in its place:  

An organized and uncluttered workspace aids in productivity, creativity and relaxation. Also by keeping items accessible that you use often, will not only help speed up work but you will have a greater sense of calmness while decreasing stress and fatigue.

Divide your workspace in two different zones; professional and personal. Separate zones will help you have a balance between your professional and private lives; therefore, allowing you to be more productive and efficient.

As you can see there are several simple ways to change your workspace that will aid in productivity and creativity while experiencing a happier and healthier workday.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

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One of the things I love about what I do is teaching Job Wellness tips to business owners and their employees. Whether I’m speaking to staff at assisted living homes or those who work in the office environment, I enjoy sharing tips we all need to remember throughout the day to help keep us positioned for a successful day at work.

In this article I will share several practical tips you can add to your day to help increase your productivity and creativity while reducing stress and fatigue. These tips will aid in your overall Job Wellness and help set you up for success.

Tips for Success:

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. You may not know, but air conditioning is one of the most common factors of our bodies being depleted of its water content. Keeping hydrated helps ward off headaches, fatigue, muscle weakness, improves cognitive performance and your energy level.

Get up and move around every hour. Movement is one of the best ways to increase brain function and blood flow. Did you know that after about one hour of sitting your body’s metabolism begins to slow down, effecting your blood pressure, blood sugar and heart, just to name a few.

Stretching your neck, wrist, shoulders, legs and low back several times a day helps to strengthen and lengthen muscles keeping them limber and aids in protecting you from injuries.

As you can see, just by adding a few items to your workday schedule you will have the ability to increase your job performance, reduce stress and be ready for success.

Are You Passionate About What You Do?

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My Story: Why I’m Passionate About What I Do

Currently I am certified in ergonomics and offer Job Safety & Job Wellness Solutions for the office setting as well as for assisted living owners and caregivers. But to better understand why I do what I do, and why I am passionate about it, let’s go back a few years.

I started a business in 1984 distributing ergonomic neck and back products. It began out of my passion for self- care and preventive health care after several serious accidents.

Over time I had begun to realize how much I needed to do to assist in my own healing, health, and well-being. Much of which is preventive, as in diet, exercise, or using proper neck and back supports while sleeping or sitting. Good or bad posture greatly effects the nervous system and brain function just to mention two; therefore proper posture became very important to me as well as other preventive care.

Fast forward to 2003. Overnight my husband and I instantly became the main caregivers for my wonderful mother-in-law. Mom had moved in with us due to her suffering with Alzheimer’s at age 87. Five years later it became necessary to place her in an Adult Care Home. Hence, my great appreciation for assisted living owners and caregivers. This also evoked a great passion for working within this field.

It is my goal and my joy to assist others in preventive health care. Whether I’m teaching CEU Seminars for Caregivers, offering Ergonomic Office Assessments, providing Educational Workshops or distributing products; over the years I have been able to live out my passion while sharing what I’ve learned and most importantly experienced.

It is never too late to begin living out your passions, experiences and share with others your knowledge and your story.

Job Wellness

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“Job Wellness” What’s Trending in 2017?

First let’s take a look the definition of the words job and wellness.

Definition of Job: noun \ˈjäb\

a specific duty, role, or function; the heart’s job is to circulate blood

Definition of Wellness: noun  – well·ness \ˈwel-nəs\

the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal; an evolving process of lifestyles and choices that help one achieve their full potential.

Job Wellness programs look at the employee’s duties, tasks and environment to help assess changes that can be made so that the employee can achieve their full potential as it relates to their job.

Many companies have started taking active steps to help improve their employee’s work site, health and overall job wellness.

Over the past few years some business are adding gyms at the work site, or offering gym memberships to their employees encouraging mobility and stress release while at work.

Job Wellness is not just about a health care plan, gym membership or paid time off. Job Wellness is also about the complete workstation; job sites and tasks being evaluated by outside professionals to help the employers improve the employee’s job safety, comfort, job satisfaction, health and well-being.

Here is a current article on some trends that employers are taking a look at in 2017.   http://www.bit.ly/2lelHA2

Job Wellness & Office Ergonomics, Myths & Facts!

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Several times a year I teach continuing education seminars for assisted living owners regarding job safety and ergonomics. During the power point presentation I talk about myths and facts related to safe patient handling. You might ask, how does this apply to “Office Ergonomics and Job Wellness”? The answer lies below.

Here are just a few myths and their related facts on office ergonomics:

MYTH: Those who are physically fit have a reduced risk of job injury, stress & fatigue.

FACT: Unless a worker trains in the same tasks as the job requires, then the benefit is minimal (A runner’s cardio fitness will not necessarily help them to have good body mechanics or good posture while sitting at a work station)

MYTH: Bad habits are hard to break relating to ergonomics, office wellness and office safety.

FACT: Habits are correctable by applying the following:

“Education & Training” followed by “Applied Knowledge” creates a New Mindset, “New Mindsets” create “New Habits”.

MYTH: Buying an item that the “manufacturer states is ergonomically correct” must be good, and the product will correct my work station problem.

FACT: Not all ergonomic tools and equipment are created equal. Often you get what you pay for. But most importantly if you haven’t had a proper Ergonomic Assessment, you may not know the exact solution to your job wellness and job safety problem. There are from 30-60 different questions and assessments that go into a Certified Ergonomic Evaluation to help aid in the purchase of ergonomic tools or furniture.

MYTH: An ergonomic program will not help my company’s productivity or bottom line.

FACT:  As you may have read in a previous blog titled (Workplace Ergonomics, is it Worth the Investment) proper ergonomic assessments and training will improve worker comfort, as well increase productivity and creativity. Ergonomic training will also help to decrease job turnover, and absenteeism.

Ergo Breaks Will Aid in Your Productivity, Creativity and Job Wellness

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So Just What Are Ergo Breaks?

As you may have read in our previous Blogs; long periods of sitting, awkward postures, repetitive motions, eye strain, and lack of mobility will all play havoc on your overall job function, creativity, productivity, sense of wellbeing and is a sure setup for stress and fatigue.

Ergo Breaks are nothing more than taking a few minutes several times a day to stretch, walk or disconnect from your desk, the phone, computer, or any work space.

Movement is one of the most fundamental ways we have to aid in job function, mental clarity, physical strength and of course general wellbeing.

Ergo Breaks don’t even require you to go to the gym or outside. You can do these breaks right at your workstation in most cases. These exercises are simple, quick and are sure to refresh and re-energize you for the next hour or two.

Here is a great source, http://bit.ly/2krfJHm for Ergo Break Exercises from the “National Institute of Health” for the following: Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hand, Wrist, Finger, Foot and more.

Now all you need to do is commit to taking breaks every one to two hours during the work day, do the exercises, and then stay committed to adding them to your daily routine throughout your work week.

Dehydration, Job Safety & Job Wellness

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How Dehydration Affects Your Job Safety & Job Wellness

There are many factors that can attribute to dehydration; heat, exercise and the water we lose every day in the form of water vapor in the breath we exhale and in our excreted sweat. Dehydration occurs when more water is moving out of our cells and bodies than what we are taking in through drinking or eating, then our bodies become out of balance.

Here are a few signs and symptoms of dehydration that can range from minor to severe that will have an effect on your overall job safety and job wellness.

Muscle Fatigue (is a risk factor for strain & sprain)

Headaches

Dizziness

Lethargy – Difficulty with Tasks

Cognitive Performance

Confusion

Generally by the time we feel thirsty or have other symptoms we are already dehydrated. Staying hydrated is simple, we just need to make it a priority. Here are a few tips to staying hydrated while at work.

Eat plenty of fruit which has a natural high water content

Add vegetables such as cucumbers, lettuce and broccoli to your snacks

Not fond of water, sip on ice tea, or teas made of fruit

Drink sparkling water instead of soda

Though caffeinated drinks don’t appear to increase the risk of dehydration according to new studies at the Mayo Clinic, caffeinated drinks can cause headaches in some people which effects clarity of mind and cause you to feel stressed and fatigued, and this will affect overall job safety and job wellness.

Water is probably your best bet to stay hydrated. It is calorie-free, caffeine-free, inexpensive and readily available.

Staying Hydrated: A Simple Way to Aid in Job Safety & Job Wellness