Does sneaking pain impact your productivity at work?

Common pain conditions have adverse effects on the quality and amount of work employees put in, including:

  • Missed work days;
  • Reduced work performance;
  • Negative attitudes and outlooks;
  • Decreased efficiency.

2003 study found that roughly 13% of the American workforce reported losing productive time (average 4.6 hours/week) during a 2-week work period due to common pain conditions including headaches, backaches, arthritis pain and other musculoskeletal conditions.

Additionally, when workers are taking time off because of pain or illness, they may be less likely to take advantage of true vacation days down the line.

A growing body of evidence is revealing that forfeiting vacation days is not only bad for your bank account, but for the economy overall, and for your health, oftentimes increasing risk for heart disease.

Productivity Tips for Tackling Pain

1. Watch Your Posture.

Want to avoid low back pain and headaches? Try sitting up a little straighter, especially if you work all day sitting down at a computer.

Slouching, slumping, crossing your legs, and craning your neck and head forward are common bad posture habits that lead to muscle tension, strain, and inflammation.

In fact, experts say that “forward head syndrome” from staring down at your laptop or smartphone screen could add 10 to 30 lbs of added pull on your back muscles, youch!

Tip: Sit on a stability ball or use a standing desk if you spend most of your working hours at a computer!

Take conference meetings on the go by asking colleagues to join you for laps around the office. And don’t forget to get up at least every 30 minutes from sitting for a quick stretch or jaunt to the water cooler.

2. Drink Enough Water.

Lots of coffee and poor hydration are a recipe for headaches and digestion pain.

So many workers hit the desk first thing and drink coffee until lunch followed by an afternoon latte. The caffeine in coffee acts as a diuretic and might make you go to the bathroom more, eliminating fluids that you’re not necessarily replenishing.

Healthy hydration with regular drinking of water can help you stay more alert and concentrate better.

Tip: Set specific times for drinking water, i.e. a glass each time you use the restroom, a full glass with breakfast and lunch. Keep a reusable water bottle with you at your desk to always have hydrating fluids at the ready.

3. Get Better Sleep.

The 6 Most Common Sleeping Positions (Backed By Science) and Their Implications For Your Health

Is your sleep quality dipping to a 3 out of 10? Oftentimes, sleep suffers not from insomnia but from old and sunken mattresses, not enough (or too much) pillow support, or staring at the blue light off devices like smartphones and tablets well into the night.

When you are sleep deprived, both your work suffers and you can experience fatigue, headaches, back pain, and more when trying to go about your day.

Tip: Set aside an hour of wind down time before bed where you take a warm bath, read a book, or listen to soothing music.

Invest in the best pillow for neck pain and a mattress that supports proper spine alignment when sleeping. And use an app like SleepCycle to help you wake up naturally in the morning when your circadian rhythm is in its lightest state of sleep.

4. Manage Stress.

Feelings of stress and anxiety that come with tackling tight work deadlines and putting up with complicated work relationships can manifest themselves very literally as muscle tension, tightness, and even headaches and back pain.

When it comes to boosting your productivity by eliminating pain, don’t forget about engaging in meaningful stress relief.

Tip: Use aromatherapy at work either with a diffuser or candle which gives off a scent, like lavender, that helps calm and relax you.

Practice deep breathing and intermittent meditation to help your body relax and focus on positive feelings. And listen to music that helps you work but doesn’t rile up your heart rate or put you on edge – classical guitar, for example.

Of course, if chronic pain is impacting not just work, but your exercise and activity levels too, seeking evaluation from a medical doctor is a must. The link between pain and productivity is a critical one, and when it comes to your work performance and your health, prioritizing natural pain relief will go a long way towards benefitting both.