Self-Care for Couch Potatoes

Just about everyone is doing more sitting than ever due the increase in work and study from home options and the ever increasing use of technology for work, learning, and entertainment. If it’s not uncommon for you to spend most of your day in pretty much one place, you’re not alone.

You likely know an overly sedentary lifestyle is not good for your health. But did you know that taking care of your body when you are sedentary is also important? For example, if you have back or neck problems, you know how much trouble ignoring your posture can be.


So, how can you take care of your body when you’re staying in one place most of the day? Well, there are lots of ways. Here are some ideas:

Movement breaks — ideally every 45 minutes to one hour, but at least every two to three hours. Stand, stretch, walk around, and change positions.

Bio breaks — you need to eat, stay hydrated, use the bathroom, and take rest breaks. Pushing through your body’s needs will only destroy your health and mood.

Get outside — the change in scenery and fresh air will do you good, promise.

Rest your eyes — Your eyes are designed for both near and far vision use. When you are inside, your eyes probably stay focused almost exclusively on things near your face. You need to look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to maintain healthy vision.

Ergonomics Your body is designed to be changing positions frequently. Your anatomy is not suited for long periods of inactivity. So when you need to stay in one place for an extended period of time, it’s vital to ensure your body is in the best position possible to avoid repetitive use injuries, muscle imbalances, and slumped posture.

Two things to keep in mind for seated work:

  1. Stability before mobility
  2. Moving is alerting

Stretch — Oft neglected but critical to long-term health and mobility, you need to bend, twist, and stretch. It helps relieve tension, lubricate joints, and remind you that you have a body. Depending on your body and your lifestyle, you will need to find stretches that work for your body. If you’re not sure where to start, a massage therapist, yoga instructor, or physical therapist (among other body workers) would be able to help you. Two general tips:

  1. Go to the end range of your movements (where you start to feel resistance but before you feel any pain) and hold for several breaths
  2. Target any area of your body that you bend or extend for long periods of time and stretch it in the opposite direction (open your chest and arms up and out if you tend to hunch forward, and open and extend your hips if you sit a lot)