How to Write on the
Computer and Stay Healthy
By Dorry C. Pease
Dorry C. Pease
Writers, by nature,
seem to have a need to spend hours in front of the computer preparing their
masterpiece. With an occasional stretch and another dose of muscle
ointment, off they go into the night, hunched over the keyboard typing,
skimming, making changes as eyes strain under the bright desk lamp.
Although this image
tends to be the popular concept of a good writer, unhealthy typing habits
may actually prevent successful submissions. Repetitive tasks, such as
typing for long periods, may cause musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal
tunnel syndrome. Excessive stress, burnout, writer's block, a lack of focus
and the inability to produce effectively also may result from unhealthy
examine your writing habits. Below, I have outlined a few simple steps that
may help safeguard your health and aid in the production of your epic
Arrange the work area for comfort.
If you are uncomfortable
at your computer, unable to focus on the monitor in front of you or
concentrate on your writing:
Choose a chair that provides
support for your lower back.
Adjust work surface height
for your natural body position.
Clear under the desk for
comfortable leg positioning.
Center the keyboard in front
of you with the mouse close at hand and on the same level as the keyboard,
about elbow height.
Place items used on a
frequent basis within arm's reach; move your arms to reach the distant
Prop up the keyboard to keep
wrists straight and fingers as flexible as possible.
Type with hands and wrists
floating above the keyboard.
Some of these items may take practice, but
your health is worth it.
Protect your back, shoulders and neck.
Before you grab
that back-supporting pillow, massage your neck and shoulders for the third
time in less than an half hour, or rub eyes that sting, take time to adjust
Center your monitor in front
of you with the top of the screen at eye level or place the documents in
front of you and your monitor to one side. This will help reduce
Use a document holder at eye
level to relieve eye stress.
Position the monitor at arm's
Avoid glare. Turn the monitor
away from direct light sources and adjust window covers to block sunlight
that may reflect off furniture.
Regulate monitor brightness
and font size so you are not straining to read.
Three types of low force
used while working on the computer and when repeated over long periods may
be hazardous to your physical health.
is force exerted through repetitive movements, such as pressing hard on keys
or clicking the mouse button.
is used for holding the mouse or cradling the phone while typing.
is a kind of low force that results from resting your wrists on the edge of
your desk as you type.
To avoid the problems
these forces create:
Keep your hands and fingers
relaxed on the keyboard and when clicking the mouse use a light touch.
Avoid resting your palms or
wrists on any surface while typing.
Relax your arms and hands
when not typing.
Hold the mouse with a relaxed
Adjust your chair so the seat
doesn't press against the back of your knees.
Vary computer work with play.
Taking a break
from computer work is not something you should do when the mood strikes. It
is a necessity and, done regularly, lessens the stress and tension resulting
from hours at the keyboard.
Setting a timer
is a good strategy to follow. It will help to remind you when it's time to
do something else.
When it rings:
Move away from the work
area. Drink a beverage, sit on the porch, rest your brain, read a silly
book, write in your journal. Wash the dishes, vacuum the living room, or
visit with members of your family.
Move from sitting while
typing to standing while talking on the phone. You are being productive
while using a different set of muscles.
Plan your work and play so
that one is not performed to the exclusion of the other.
Use different input devices
on your computer:
Perform a scrolling task
using the mouse wheel or the arrow keys instead of clicking the mouse.
Set and use keyboard
shortcuts to change your routine.
Work with software and
hardware on your computer to reduce effort and increase productivity.
Review written work using the document editing features, use the spell check
before visually checking for errors, activate the grammar and spelling
tools, and don't cut, copy, or paste when you can review using your
processor's review tools.
Change the thought pattern of
your mind: edit from the bottom of your document to the top.
If your mind begins to wander
from your work, get up and let your body wander with your mind.
Above all, give yourself permission to
relax and you will more likely write
happy and compute healthy.
EXPRESS Professional Staffing
published by Express Personnel Services. Inc
Computer-Office Health Issues
Computers and Health