Creating the Right Balance at Work

Home ThinkSpace Week 7: Conveying What Your Body Tells You in Life Contexts Creating the Right Balance at Work

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  • Living with any chronic condition is a challenge but living with a chronic condition and managing work is a whole adventure of its own. It is essential to listen to your body so as to find the right balance at work. Finding a balance also means understanding how much you can handle and learning to clearly articulate your needs. So what does this mean? For me, it means knowing what symptoms will affect me the most and taking the time to start brainstorming ways of alleviating the symptoms.

    For example, I suffer from migraines often triggered by the fluorescent lights found in many offices. Every time I was at work I would not be able to concentrate because of the discomfort. Once I realized the lights where a major problem I spoke to my doctor first to see if she would be willing to write a note that I could use with my employer explaining the need to adjust the lighting. Armed with support from my doctor I asked my boss if the lighting above my desk could be removed. It was a relatively easy adjustment to make so they were able to accommodate my request. I had the same issue at another job but they couldn’t remove the lighting due to the way it was set up so I bought myself prescription sunglasses which I wore while at the office. I also would ask staff if I could turn off or dim the lights when we had certain group meetings. It was a hard exercise because it meant being vocal but it was my first lesson in advocating for myself in the workplace.
    How have you found balance at work? What are some of the things you have done to adjust?

    Jerrie Kumalah
  • I am lucky to have a flexible work environment where I can work at home if I don’t need to be in the office. This is especially useful on days (like today, alas) when I am having some GI issues that necessitate me being near a bathroom, I have the ability to stay home and not have to walk down the long hallway and make noise around others.

    Just to reply to what you mentioned above, Jerrie – most people don’t know that fluorescent lights are a trigger for migraine sufferers. I am happy to report that the VA hospital in the city I live in has recently been making the change from those to LED lights. That will be good for the patients as well as those who care for them!




    • Its great that you have some flexibility in working from home. That is something that I have found to be very helpful. Its also great to hear that the VA hospital is make those kinds of changes. I’m amazed at how many office buildings have LED lights.

      Jerrie Kumalah
  • Like AppleStrudel, I’m lucky to have a flexible work environment. I worked from home for about four months when I was recovering from nerve damage and pain from movement would have made it impossible for me to focus on my job. During that time I relied on a laptop stand that allowed me to work comfortably while I was laying down. This little guy, the Furinno Adjustable Vented Laptop Table, was my savior.
    In my transition back to the office I started going in for only two hours at a time and worked back up to a full day. I experimented a lot with my setup and activities and realized that anytime I stay in one position for too long I end up in pain by the end of the day. Sometimes long meetings can’t be avoided, but I try to stand up and sit down during them.
    My workspace was initially a challenge. I settled on getting an adjustable desk (the whole work surface raises and lowers – this was really important to me) and a kneeling chair, so that I move from standing to sitting often, and when I’m sitting (kneeling, really) the angle of my hips is more open. I still end almost every day with some level of pain or discomfort, so I’m not sure if there’s anything out there that’s better for me. I’m open to suggestions! I will note that advocating to get these special furnishings was difficult, but it looks like that is covered in the next topic!
    #laptopstand #workinglyingdown #changingpositions #kneelingchair #adjustabledesk

    Rachel Carriere
    • I love hearing about how people have managed to get their work spaces adjusted. Rachel, I would love to hear more about what you did to advocate for your work space modifications?

      Jerrie Kumalah

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