Fed up man at desk

Your work environment can trigger all sorts of health problems, from backaches and itchy eyes, to headaches and heartburn. Here, our experts offer solutions to help you navigate those bothersome work health glitches.

1. Heartburn and rumbling tummy during a meeting?

The Glitch

Eating slumped al-desko or munching on the go, coupled with stress, can cause digestive upsets. Nutritional therapist Hannah Braye says: “A noisy tummy is fairly normal. But bowel sounds with digestive symptoms such as bloating, excess gas, diarrhoea, constipation, reflux or feelings of fullness may indicate an imbalance in the digestive tract.

The Fix

For heartburn, mix either a tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar or a few drops of digestive bitters with a little water, and drink it just before eating. This can help stimulate stomach acid and digestive enzyme production,” says Braye. “Take time to eat your food. And don’t use straws, as you may swallow air.” Discuss any concerns you have with your GP.

2. Back, neck and shoulder pain while you’re doing your monthly excel sheets?

The Glitch

Technology encourages us to sit for hours but our bodies aren’t designed to do that,” says Dr Andrea Coote, a chiropractor in Chichester. “But the problem isn’t the computer, it’s posture.”

The Fix

“Never sit longer than 40 minutes without getting up to walk around to stretch your legs,” says Coote. “The correct desk posture is feet on the floor, your bottom and shoulder blades pushed into the back of your chair. Ideally, use a chair with armrests, so your arms are bent at 90 degrees and are flat on the desk. Your eyes should be level with the top of the screen. Using a laptop means you’re always looking down, forcing your neck muscles to support the weight of your head. Get a stand with a mobile keyboard and mouse and always rest your laptop on a table, not on your lap.

3. Dry, sore, itchy eyes?

The Glitch

Staring at a screen for hours and long periods of concentration reduces our blink frequency and can lead to dry, sore and itchy eyes,” says Alison Cullen, nutritional therapist.

The Fix

“Drink plenty of water to help keep mucus membranes hydrated and use eye drops for short-term relief,” she advises. Stick to the 20/20/20 rule; for every 20 minutes spent looking at your screen you should look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

4. Headache and migraine on your daily commute?

The Glitch

Stress, eyestrain, air conditioning and air pollution in typical office environments can trigger tension headaches and migraines.

The Fix

We can improve our indoor air quality,” says medical herbalist, Dr Chris Etheridge. “Chemical air fresheners are pollutants too, so try a natural air purifier.” A NASA study found that pot plants are natural air purifiers. Species such as mother-in-law’s tongue, dracaena, fern, ivy and peace lily are all top purifiers, so have one on your desk. It’s also beneficial to take regular screen breaks to relieve headaches caused by eyestrain.

5. Muscle cramps during your team stand-up meetings?

The Glitch

Muscle cramps are common after sitting or standing in the same position for a long time. “Dehydration is one of the main causes of cramps,” says training and nutrition specialist David Wiener.

The Fix

Regular stretching and moving can reduce muscle cramps,” says Wiener. “Stay hydrated by keeping track of how much water you are drinking, using one of the many water-tracking apps and bottles available,” says Wiener. “Lack of potassium can cause cramps, so bananas are great as they are high in potassium. And omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like salmon, help sore joints.”

Now that you know how to tackle those troublesome work health glitches, here are 6 smart habits that will help you feel refreshed and re-energised.

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