Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Taking Time for Me" Series: R&R at Your Desk

photo by naturalhomecures34
Relax & Rejuvenate at Your Office Desk
You might be thinking "R&R at my desk? Please! The work at my desk is what is stressing me out!" But, blogger and certified massage therapist Carrie Burgan knows how you can find some peace in the middle of the office storm.

This is the 2nd of 3 sponsored guest posts in the series "Taking Time for Me" where Carrie shares tips on loving our bodies.  So put down that mouse and discover how to get some R&R at your office desk...

You’re at work. It’s only 10:30. You still have six hours until you can think about going home, your project is due, your kids are sick, you’re planning your dad’s retirement party, and your neck and shoulders are killing you.

Stop. Recharge.
During the week I visit several office buildings and provide massage to the employees there. These employees are very lucky to get massage during the work day, but they frequently ask me how they can make the massage benefits last longer through the day and into the week. I have shared these secrets with them and I’d love to pass them along to you. You’ll find that it’s pretty easy and certainly free for you to take advantage of the five following strategies for workplace wellness. By taking just a few minutes each day to practice some easy self-care, you can recharge and refresh enough to tackle even the heftiest to-do list. You don’t even have to leave your desk.

If clients have you stressed out or something in your personal life is amiss, take time to breathe. You don’t have to have a half-hour meditation session to reap the benefits of a few, good breaths. At your desk a good goal is to aim for ten deep breaths.

To do this exercise, place your hands in your lap and your feet flat on the floor. The breath should come from your diaphragm, meaning you should feel your tummy expand as you breathe in and out, not just your chest. Breathe in through your mouth for a count of 3-7 seconds (careful not to go too long too quickly, or else you can get lightheaded) and out through your nose for 5-8 seconds. If stressors or to-dos creep into your mind, acknowledge them and say mentally, “I’ll address you later.” Return your focus to your breathing until you have reached ten deep breaths. You should feel calmer and ready to begin your work again!

photo by dibytes
Hand Maintenance
Typewriters. Keyboards. Computer mice. Fax machines. Copier jams. Telephones. Text messages. Instant messages. Meeting notes. Coffee cups. You use your hands in almost everything you do and use at the office. Taking care of your hands is essential to your body’s sound structure and to your source of income! Getting a friend or loved one to massage your hands is great, but you can help stretch and strengthen your hands with the following exercise.

Grab a medium rubber band. Place it around all five of your fingers midway down the finger and near the top 1/3 of your thumb. Open your fingers as wide as they can go, using the rubber band for resistance. Close your fingers slowly and then repeat. It’s a good idea to start with a lighter rubber band and work up to the thick bands as your hands get stronger. (People with arthritis may need to check with a doctor first.)

Stretch Those Pecs!
Our pectoral muscles are often tight from poor, hunched posture, uncomfortable seating, large chests, etc. Our pectorals (or “pecs”) are often tight, which can lead to rounded, front-tilting shoulders. Rounded, front- (or “anterior”-) tilted shoulders can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain and limited range of motion in the arms. It’s important for anyone who does work at computers, drives a lot, or does other front-facing jobs to stretch their pecs. One way to do this is to stand or sit on the edge of a chair with arms behind your back and fingers interlaced, palms up. Open your chest by squeezing your shoulder blades together for 10 seconds. Slowly release and repeat. You can also do an internet search on “pec stretches at desk”for more options.

photo by lauratitian
Play Footsie
Your feet are responsible for moving you from point A to B, hundreds of times a day. Ill-fitting shoes, high heels, hard pavement, among other things, all impact our delicate feet! One way you can counteract painful feet while you’re at your desk is to invest in a tennis ball or a large (approximately 2”) “high bounce” ball to keep at your desk. While you’re on the phone or typing, you can slip off your shoe and place the ball between your foot and the floor. Roll the ball back and forth to stretch the tendons and connective tissue in your feet, which can affect pain in the feet, legs and back.

photo by TroyWitte
Aroma to the Rescue
We’ve all awoken to the smell of fresh coffee brewing. The aroma says, “It’s morning!” You can find other aromas to use to smell during the day as an easy and affordable pick-me-up. You can try coffee, or if you’d like to skip the caffeine, keep some pure, essential oils on hand. You can purchase essential oils and blends at health food stores, online, through many spas and massage therapists. Peppermint and spearmint oil and rosemary oil are said to be stimulating. If you’re trying to focus, both sage and basil essential oils promote focus and clarity. If you’re feeling down, citrus oil like orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit can help to energize you and give you a happy lift. Unlike perfumes and fragrance oils, essential oils have therapeutic properties that can help sustain you through the day.

Click here to see all the posts in this series
Carrie Burgan, owner of Revolve Massage Therapy, is a nationally certified massage therapist, natural health enthusiast, and self-proclaimed "lover of life" in the Metro Detroit area. She feels that although worn down by time, stress and the environment, we can take care to maintain the temples we have been given - our bodies! She is also available for private parties, events, and to speak to your groups about massage. Find out more at

Find out more about Carrie on Twitter at @CarrieB_Massage and on Facebook at RevolveMassage where she announces special deals and freebies on her massage services.
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