“I’ve had a lot of computer work to do this week so my body isn’t too happy.”
“Doing the Near/Far drill is a great one during frequent breaks. (You’re taking breaks aren’t you?)”
“Near/Far…I don’t think we have done that one!”
“Well! Let’s do it now!”
Our eyes provide SEVENTY percent of the sensory input to our brain. Sensory INPUT (like what you see) comes BEFORE a motor output (an action in our body). The brain interprets the input and then instigates the output based on the interpretation of that input.
So imagine sitting at your desk for hours, staring at your computer. The screen stays the SAME distance from your face. If you are working with words or numbers and not playing GAMES(ahem) or watching videos (for gosh sakes!), the screen even stays the same light, colors, and with the same size images. Your pupils and eye muscles don’t have to DO anything! You have just severely limited the amount of sensory input your brain is receiving – and for HOURS. Your brain is receiving the info : “nothing’s changing, nothing’s moving,” so it sends the corresponding signal to your body: “nothin’ to do here, folks, nothin’ to do.”
The message from your brain isn’t just that life is boring, but that what is happening to you is actually threatening, simply because movement=life.
Not only that, but sensory input comes from your proprioception too – so what position are you in? If you are sitting (or standing – it doesn’t matter much) in a chair, you probably only have one, and barring one of those lifty levers, you are probably in the same exact position of hip flexion and spinal curvature all the live long day. Of the wide and awesome menu of all the possible macro-movements your body COULD do in a day, you’re getting, like, 4?
No wonder you feel stiff and tired and yucky. Your body is stagnating! The stiff and tired and yucky feelings are there to tell you to STOP not doing anything and instead, move around! Sit around staring at a computer for 5 days at a time, and sometimes your body kind of gives up: you don’t even notice when you aren’t feeling well because you have adapted to sitting and staring, but not for the betterment of your health! It is under these circumstances that getting up and moving around again on the weekends becomes so challenging, and why it is harder to recover from “office bod” than it is to prevent it.
So what is a human – who is trapped in a “cage” – supposed to do? First of all, don’t fret! Moving the office bod is easy! It just takes a little mindfulness and creativity at times.
If 70% of our sensory input comes from our eyes, we can really maximize our office “nutrients” to our brain by feeding our eyes. Print out the flier from the photo above that comes to us from my teacher, Katy Bowman at Nutritious Movement, to remind you to take an Eye Break and look for things that are FARRRRRR, farrrr away. Like, maybe you could go outside and try to see some birds or something. Or an airplane. Or, the cute admin in the office across the street. Your brain will start to come back from the Dark Side! It will tell your body, “We are doing something interesting! I like it!” (Really, I think it will.)
You want to take it to the next level, don’t you? Do some eye acrobatics by TAKING OFF YOUR GLASSES (if you have them). Find something close to you but beyond the distance of your screen to your face (make it, like, 36″ away) that you can see clearly (bad vision? choose something large and colorful). Then, from the same place you are standing, look for something far away that you can still see pretty clearly (again, opt for large and colorful if you need to). The idea is that you can see both objects and see them relatively clearly from the place you are standing. Then look at one, and then the other, shifting your gaze back and forth between the near and the far as fast as you can while still keeping the clarity of the objects. This little drill comes to us from my teacher, Dr. Eric Cobb of Z-Health.
Hey! If you get dizzy, or tired, or you start to whine or cry – you should stop! Only do it as much as feels good. Okay? And start slow. If you aren’t used to making your eyes move a lot, a little goes a long way.
There are about a zillion different ways you can change your work station to give you more movement options. Be creative! (Here are some ideas from my student Lori!) Since your feet are used to having the majority of your proprioception stimulation, if you are in a cubicle, I’d go there next to change things up. What are some ways you can give your feet more interesting things to do? As long as you have delicious-smelling feet, I think your co-workers will never know if you take off your shoes. If they have to LOOK at your feet, you might want to bring them chocolates or something that makes them feel like they are benefiting from the arrangement as well. Get a massage ball to roll under your feet, or make a sensory mat that has a smooth stone surface. Give your feet some play time like you would any cute furry animal. Your boss should be happy about this: it will make you more productive. Before you know it, your whole office will be all barefoot-n-breezy!
Maybe…could you please change your chair? Can you just get rid of it? At least SOME of the time? Here are a couple of my favorite ways (small dogs are helpful too):
Have fun being creative about turning your workspace into a body-friendlier space! Your body will thank you.