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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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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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