How to avoid tech injuries

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I’m online a lot – for work (communications), for hobby time (blogging) and social media (phone). Over the past few years I’ve needed to actively take precautions against tech injuries like aching wrist, sore neck and back.

Recently I was working diligently during the day, multitasking between updating a website, writing a blog and replying to some emails. I dragged an item into Dropbox as part of a backup that I intended to run, only for my computer to freeze for thirty seconds, then shut down.

I took a deep breath, believing if I restarted my new laptop (only a few months old) that it would all simply reset. Over 45 minutes later I admitted defeat and called my tech services experts. The news was bad – I’d need a total reinstall and wouldn’t have my laptop back for a few days. *sob*

Then I went about doing something really stupid. Instead of accepting a loan option, I chose to work mostly from my phone, and calling in the odd favour from a colleague to do work that absolutely needed to be done on a computer.

I was rather proud of my efforts and how much I could actually utilise my phone for – emails, cloud based services, even photo editing! I love being independent (ask my parents; this trait drove them nuts!).

That evening though, my arm was so sore from the tips of my fingers to the back of my neck. The next day my tech injury was exasperated further, and I couldn’t type or text. My day of efficiency turned into a week of pain. All my fault, and I should have known better.

A longer term tech injury I am mindful of is a very uncomfortable neck pain that I get that starts at the side of my head (headache) and runs all the way down my neck and into my shoulder blade near the middle of my back. It happens if I sit in the wrong position or on an unsupported surface for too long looking at a screen and sometimes it’s really tough to get rid of.

We can live in harmony with our gadgets and avoid tech injuries, and the first step is being aware that we can end up in just as much strife over inappropriate posture and repetitive movements on phones, as we can by running about playing tennis or at the gym without knowing what we’re doing.

There’s a helpful blog by a sports therapy service provider in Brighton that I’ve discovered, which looks at topics like how stress can cause pain, why it’s important to keep an eye on your posture while at work, case studies and myth busters on health and wellbeing.

After years of working in front of screens, I now live by a few rules that save me pain:

  1. Seek advice on the right angle and height for your computer screen. This makes all the difference in avoiding unnecessary neck pain and wrist strain. It’s also a good idea to investigate whether you are using the right mouse, keyboard and sitting in an appropriate chair for your body type, height and type of work.
  2. Take breaks if you find yourself texting, editing, Instagramming or emailing for long periods of time on a smart phone or tablet.
  3. Remember to exercise and stretch regularly. Personally I find yoga is essential. Also the weight machines in the gym (especially those where you are working the muscles of your arms and back) are really helpful for balancing bad posture or sitting in front of a laptop for hours. I have had advice from professionals on this though, but personal trainers and yoga instructors are so accessible these days (on and offline), so no excuses for DIY in this area until you are properly advised.
  4. We have also been offered helpful advice advice from physiotherapists in the past – it’s amazing that something that has long ailed you can be rectified thanks to professional insight.
  5. Be mindful of your body – you know it best, so if something doesn’t feel right don’t let it go. Most tech injuries are preventable. Seek advice and don’t live with little aches – what a shame if you ignore it and it becomes a larger problem.

 

What’s your experience with tech injuries? Your stories, tips and experience is welcome, let us know on social media or in the comments below.

 

Diary of a spectator at heart (Get it Magazine, September column)

 

I’m having the Last Word in Get it Magazine – this month I reflect on lessons learnt about the real value of getting fit. –Sarah

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My man, Cooper, has told me − affectionately of course − that I resemble a dachshund when I run. You know, a ‘sausage dog’; a cute one, I’m assured. He knows me well, which makes this quite funny because it’s probably true.

I’ve never loved the gym, and I am not a runner (I have been known to jog into Uncle Dan’s though). My aversion to running started way back in grade one. Six years old and attending a small school in Cairns, cane fields rustling in the breeze out the back, all of us were marched onto the oval to run. All the way around in the heat. I hated it. Right there the stubborn Taurean was officially born, and unfortunately for all PE teachers to come, I was to be the one they’d never convince.

My wise mum got me involved in something she knew I’d like – ballet. It was my extra curricula thing. Sadly, at 16 it became apparent my ankles didn’t have the strength, so I took up tennis. I enjoyed it, especially when I discovered I could win by perfecting my serve to ace my opponent, eradicating the need to, you guessed it – run! Resourceful, I am.

Let’s be honest, most of us especially when we are young, care not for fitness but about how we look. I thought I was blessed with a fast metabolism and the ability to eat anything (Muffin Break treats daily and Uni dinners of pasta, cheese and tomato sauce – fail, fail). If the skirt didn’t fit right, I’d go on a walk every morning for a couple of weeks and be fine. That didn’t last.

I was lucky to have Cooper to encourage me all these years. He’s an all-round fitness nut (my opposite). I’ve dipped in and out of gym, Body Combat, Yoga, Body Balance, walking, Barre; I’ve tested fitness classes, diets and supplements, achieving varying degrees of satisfaction. Drudgery, all with the aim of gaining some kind of ‘perfection’. Until I realised that it’s not just about what I look like. Slow-learner, I am.

While I’m sharing wisdom, here’s what else I found out along the way: long term weight maintenance happens because we make better choices and exercise more often than not. Also, active life = good mood, feeling motivated and inspired. So simple!

Recently I saw Andrea Corbett share her moving story. She’s ranked in the top five international female body builders in the world. A former school teacher, she told of how she hit a majorly tough spot in her life and was living on anti-depressants. She didn’t want it to be like that, and following a serendipitous turn of events she says, “I found body-building, and it saved my life”. Her mantra hit home: fitness means looking and feeling good.

I gathered a group of girlfriends to grill them on the topic, and we concluded that without a doubt some (not all, obviously) periods of depression in our lives have coincided with a lack of exercise and unhealthy life choices.

I am a spectator at heart. A very good one too. Once, my friend Julie and I turned up to a footy game to cheer Cooper on, feeling proud for being there in the first place, only to realise we were watching the wrong game. #girlfriendfail

I am a better spectator than athlete. But, despite the foot-stomping, procrastinating and initial disinterest in the gym, this ‘spectator’ does finally get the true meaning of living a fit life. Sexy, skinny selfies might be cool, but now and in the long term, the value in getting healthy is really about the happiness payoff. That’s the advice I share with my younger friends, and the experience I discuss with contemporaries. It’s never too late to get active, to find something you enjoy doing and make it a habit. I’ve just spotted an ad for ‘swing fit’ in my neighbourhood (swing dancing, to be clear). Health. Happiness. Fabulous. It seems running may not even be required.

Read the September issue of Get it Magazine

 

Getting the chop (Get it Magazine, August column)

 

Happy to be back and having a say – the Last Word to be precise – in Get it Magazine. This month, wisdom in a haircut. How? Read on to find out, and click the cover photo to read the digital edition of this lovely mag. –Sarah

Every few years as the seasons change I find myself casually eyeing photos of short hairstyles – cute bobs, messy beach crops and sexy layers. Infrequent browsing becomes more determined, and the excitement of a new do dawns.

I inevitably commit. Let’s cut this long boring hair. Yes!

I browsed, bookmarked, and was even clickbaited by InStyle UK when the magazine declared the look of the year is a “hot platinum blonde buzz cut”, as showcased at Paris’ Haute Couture Fashion Week in July by Katy Perry, Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss.

Those ladies are never wrong. We should all do this, right? There’s nothing like a rebellious visit to the salon where you announce to your gleeful stylist, ‘Let’s do this – I’m ready for a change and to let the world know I’m not afraid – you have my blessing to CUT!’

I showed up on time, gave the salon dog, Dolly, a hug, and then produced my efficient Pinterest board full of inspiration and examples. My stylist smiled and nodded. I felt confident.

Other blondies will understand the process – colour first, then toner, wash, condition; all the while gossiping, flicking through magazines and scrolling Instagram (trying not to pick out too many more photos that demonstrate how we might like to look at the end of this big event).

The scissors appeared and the chirpy apprentice primed her phone in order to Instagram my transformation. The examples I shared showed a choppy blonde look that fell a little above the shoulders. My hairdresser went to start at that length, but during a moment of miscommunication when I wasn’t entirely paying attention (I was actually filming Dolly for Facebook because I am a [crazy] dog-lover), a lot more hair came off than I expected.

The bob was chic and shapely. But oh, it was short.

Some of you reading this know me and you’ve likely heard me preach about how change is great – go for it, put yourself out there, quit the job you hate, fall in love, move overseas, go travelling, adopt a rescue dog, cut your hair off… all excellent ideas.

The crisis of identity that followed was kept secret, except from Cooper my long-suffering better half. He offered support. ‘You look ten years younger,’ he said. Bless him. ‘Yes’, I thought, because I haven’t had this cut since I was 15!

At this point all I could see was long hair – film, television, magazines, my own selfies. Long hair, everywhere.

This all happened right before we went on a holiday and in hindsight part of the problem for me was trying to style a brand new cut while using harsh hotel hair products. My hair wasn’t moving. I defiantly refused to be in photos. I didn’t look like me. I consider myself to be quite ‘low maintenance’, and was surprised by my reaction. I took to Google to try and make sense of it all. Psychology Today explained: “Because it is so visible, hair becomes a part of a person’s identity. It helps define the persona you aim to create… Hair can also influence the way you define yourself to yourself, as an extension of your identity”.

By the time I returned to my day job, I had started to master the look. I was even warming to the new me. My manager tentatively complimented the change, and followed with a story about how he’d once thought he was doing the right thing by acknowledging a colleague’s cut only to have her promptly burst into tears. #firstworldgirlproblems

Now I’m back though. The ‘brave’ one with the cute crop (and hair trend of 2017?); the blondie who does things most others won’t [are not crazy enough to] do. People seem to like it. I do now too. Did I lose my identity? Yes, for a bit. Was it worth venturing outside of my comfort zone? As I always say, definitely.

Read the August issue of Get it Magazine online