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5 Ways to Relieve Office Neck and Shoulder Tension for Good

5 Ways to Relieve Office Neck and Shoulder Tension for Good

If you’ve ever worked in front of a computer for long periods of time, then you don’t need me to tell you that this type of desk work is a surefire way to cause neck and shoulder tension. While you may be so sick of the accompanying headaches, stiffness, and general discomfort that you fantasize about suing your employer for compensation, I’m here to tell you that there are more effective ways to get relief. Here’s how to prevent and cope with neck and shoulder tension so you feel better—for good.

1. Correct your posture

The best way to cure neck and shoulder tension is to prevent it in the first place. You can do this partly by identifying when your posture is sub-optimal and then making proper adjustments. Odds are extremely high that whatever posture you adopt while staring at a computer screen is putting strain on your neck and shoulders. Here’s how to fix it:

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Whenever you sit down at your computer, imagine that someone is tugging on the hair at the center of the back of your head, gently drawing your head toward the wall behind you. At the same time, imagine that a balloon is attached to the top of your head, gently tugging it upward. The idea is that by subtly realigning your head, neck, and shoulders in this way, you’ll adopt a posture that’s less likely to create tension.

2. Strengthen your muscles

Weak trapezius, rhomboid, and latissimus dorsi (aka lat) muscles can all contribute to neck and shoulder pain. On the flip side, strengthening these muscles can help prevent tension from happening in the first place. You can target these muscles with workouts—check out these exercises for traps, rhomboids, and lats. If you’re not the powerbuilding type, you can also strengthen these muscles with a few yoga poses. Keeping your muscles in shape will make them less susceptible to the strains of office work.

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3. Change up your sleep position

Neck and shoulder tension that’s caused by desk work can be exacerbated by an unexpected cause: namely, the way you sleep. By changing your sleeping position, you can give your muscles a much-needed break and allow them to properly recover from days at the office. Most experts agree that sleeping on your stomach is the worst position because it places strain on the neck’s vertebrae. This means that sleeping on your side or back is your best bet when it comes to preventing neck and shoulder tension. It’s also critical that you choose the best mattress for your preferred sleeping position.

4. Massage yourself

Massage therapy is a great way to relieve tension, and you don’t have to fork over hundreds of dollars to a masseuse in order to reap the benefits. In fact, you can relieve neck tension while sitting at your desk. Here’s how:

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  • Start by placing your hands over your shoulders. Exhale, gently drop your head back, and slide your hands from your shoulders toward your neck, squeezing the whole time.
  • Next, place your elbows on your desk and let your head drop forward. Move your fingertips in small circles while massaging your neck from the shoulders to the base of your hairline.

These simple exercises can help you target sore muscles and relieve neck tension before it turns into a (literal) headache.

5. Embrace the power of tennis balls

Want to take your self-massage up a notch? Then grab a couple of tennis balls and try using them in one of two ways:

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  1. Put two tennis balls in a sock and tie off the end. Next, use this massage device to apply pressure to tense or sore muscles—either by pressing it into your muscles or by laying on top of it. (For more detailed instructions, check out this video.)
  2. Target the shoulders by grabbing a tennis ball, positioning yourself 18 inches from a wall, and sitting into a partial squat (with your butt pressing against the wall). Place the tennis ball at the top of your shoulder, so that it’s pressed between your shoulder and the wall. Stand up very slowly (an inch at a time), allowing the ball to roll along one side of your spine as you stand up. If you hit a sore spot, pause and allow the pressure to work its magic before continuing on. Reverse the process by slowly sitting back down into a squat. Then switch sides.

The value of using tennis balls to roll out sore muscles is that they allow you to focus the pressure directly onto the muscles that are causing you issues (without exhausting your fingers).

Of course, there are plenty of stretches and yoga poses that can also provide additional relief. But the strategies I’ve outlined above will help you do more than cope with generalized tension or pain. They’ll allow you to target specific sore spots and prevent neck and shoulder tension altogether.

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Kenny Kline

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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