Long workdays at your desk can be hard on your body and your mind, especially if you’re working by yourself at home. It’s all too easy to get sucked into your emails and to-do lists and forget to take breaks.
It might seem counterintuitive, but taking regular self-care breaks during your workday can actually help you get more work done, even though you’re spending slightly less time working.
Taking breaks can help you maintain your energy all day, manage stress, improve your decision making skills, and improve overall wellness.
Sometimes, you just need a little work from home reset.
Though there are tons of great ways to take a much needed work break, we’re sharing how you can do 5 simple stretching exercises at your desk to take a quick 1-minute break.
5 Simple Desk Stretches
1. Back Stretch
To do a simple back stretch from your desk clasp your hands together, reach them above your head with palms facing up, and look up at your hands. Take a big breath in as you do so. Pull your spine up straight to feel the muscles of your back and shoulders stretch. You can even take a little backbend here if that feels good.
Next, reach your arms forward, straight out in front of you. Round your back and neck bringing your chin to your chest and your gaze to your lap. Don’t force your body into this position, just allow it to happen naturally. Take a big breath out as you do so.
Complete both movements a couple of times, connecting your movement to your breath, until you feel satisfied.
2. Neck Stretch
If your workday is causing neck pain or a stiff neck, these simple neck stretches can help ease the tension.
Clasp your hands behind your head to protect your neck. Then, gently lean your head back. You should feel this stretch in the back of your neck and upper back.
Next, reach your right hand up and over to rest it on the left side of your head. Using the weight of your hand, gently tilt your head to the right. Don’t force your head down, just allow gravity to do the work. You should feel this stretch on the left side of your neck and shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
3. Back Twist
To do a seated back twist, make sure your feet are flat on the floor and lower your chair if needed. Sit up nice and straight. Cross your right leg over your left. Bring your right elbow to your right knee, keeping your forearm straight up. Bring your left elbow to the back of your chair, twist to the left, and look past your left shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
If this stretch doesn’t feel right for you, try this variation instead:
Cross your right leg over your left. Bring your right hand to your right knee. Place your left hand beside your left leg on your chair. Gently twist to your left and look past your left shoulder.
4. Wrist Stretch
Your wrists can be under a lot of strain if you work at a computer all day, every day. This quick wrist stretch can help ease a bit of that tension.
Stretch your left arm out in front of you, palm facing out. Gently pull back on your left fingertips with your right hand.
Next, turn your left hand down so your palm is facing your body. Gently push the top of your left hand with your right hand.
Repeat these same stretches on your right wrist.
Breathing is more of an exercise rather than a stretch, but we think it’s important enough to include on this list. We can get so consumed by our work that we forget to take a step back from it all and just breathe.
The reality is that if you don’t take a bit of time to do breathing exercises throughout the day, you may be unintentionally taking shallow breaths. This is especially true if you have a lot of work related stress. Shallow breathing can lead your body to activate its fight-or-flight stress response which can negatively impact both your work and your health (1).
The good news is that you can do a simple breathing exercise while sitting at your desk during your work from home reset.
While sitting straight but not stiff, inhale deeply through your nose and focus on filling your abdomen with your breath. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this simple breathing technique for a few breaths or a few minutes until you feel calm and focused.
Try to incorporate deep breathing into the other desk stretches to get the maximum benefit.
To dive deeper into breathing exercises, check out this helpful post by Verywell Mind.
Want More Movement?
Doing the 5 simple stretches above creates 1-minute work from home reset you can do right from your desk. This is perfect for when you’re in the middle of a task or project and don’t want to get up.
If you’re craving a longer break and more movement while working from home (which we totally recommend, too) you might take a walk, do some light cleaning around the house, take a midday workout break, or try this office break yoga.
How To Protect Your Back and Neck While Working
Working on a computer all day can be tough on your joints and muscles. Stretching helps, but switching from a traditional desk to a more ergonomic desk setup is even better.
Creating a more comfortable workspace can improve your focus while also protecting your body. This is something we’re very passionate about at rldh which is why we create products that can help you improve your workday wellness.
Our 2 best tips for an ergonomic workday?
- Elevate your computer screen to eye level. Using products like our Solid Wood Laptop Stand or the monitor riser on Desk A elevate your screen to eye level so that you don’t have to bend your neck to look at your screen. Keeping your spine straight while you work can relieve back and neck stiffness.
- Stand while working. Our Alto Stand, Alto X, and Alto Stand Walnut allow you to convert any desk or table into a standing desk. Standing while working can make your workday more comfortable by reducing back and neck pain caused by sitting all day (2).