Office Pains 101: How to Survive a Desk Job

- Worker Happiness

Hands-on Management 3.0 leadership workshops focus on tangible practices to help managers, team leaders, middle management, and C-level executives increase employee engagement and foster transformational change within their organizations.

by Laurie Larson

Anyone who has ever had to work a 9 to 5 office job understands the pains, emotional and physical, associated with this type of work. Sure, doing a job that requires intense manual, physical labor all day must be tough on the body, but a job where you sit all day is hard, too! It may sound whiny but we don’t care. Sitting at a desk job all day is tough work, not only does it require mental nerve, but it also requires a degree of physical toughness.

We know it’s not easy to work a desk job, so we’re here to help. Check out these tips you can use to get through your day without wanting to quit by 3PM.

Surviving the mental exhaustion

Let’s be honest, sitting at an office job all day isn’t all that exciting. Learning how to survive through the day without getting bored is going to be a challenge at first, but when you commit to having a positive attitude, you can experience a real turnaround.

#1: Take breaks

No one can sit and work in one spot all day long without a single break. Any boss who expects that of you should know their demands are outrageous. Getting up, walking around and breathing in fresh air can help reset your mind and prevent you from losing it. Plus, taking a few breaks between bouts of working is proven to increase your productivity. If your boss gives you a hard time about taking breaks, prove to them that they are helping you be a more efficient and involved employee.

#2: Adjust your perspective

Working from 9 to 5 may feel like a long time, but think about it. We have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That means each week we have 168 hours and only 40 of them are spent working. That leaves 128 hours. After sleeping seven hours each night, we still have 79 free hours in the week. So basically, you’re only working for half of your free time and you should be grateful for the opportunity to earn a salary when many people cannot. Feel better now? That’s what a change in perspective can do.

Bearing the physical toll

A positive attitude will get you a long way, but once the physical pains start kicking in it’s hard to maintain that positivity. This list can be long, we’ll knock it out one-by-one.


Staring at a screen all day under bright, fluorescent lights is tough. Headaches, or worse, migraines, are difficult to avoid when you don’t have the tools. First off, if the lights are bothering you, ask your coworkers if they mind you turning them down a bit. Someone else is probably suffering, too. Next, evaluate your diet. Are you dehydrated or drinking too much caffeine? Both of these things can cause headaches, so put down the third cup of coffee and start drinking some water instead. When all else fails, protect your eyes with blue light glasses. These reflect the blue light emitted from your screen so your eyes don’t feel as much strain from looking at a digital screen all day.

Back Pain

If your back is killing you, you probably have a posture problem. Learn how to fix your posture and become more mindful of your sitting position during the day. Try to avoid sitting for too long at a time as this can make you more likely to slouch. You may also find that getting a more supportive chair will help both maintain better posture and alleviate your back pain.

Make sure you’re getting proper rest at night to allow your body the time to recover. It might sound silly because you didn’t move mountains or lift heavy objects all day, but your body subtly was being worked and needs the time to recover. Be sure you get quality rest and protect your spine by sleeping in a comfortable bed that helps your body heal.

Neck pain

Sitting at a desk all day is truly a pain in the neck and this is probably caused by your posture as well. Hanging your head down and hunching over will result in strain in your neck and shoulders. Avoid this by keeping your head level, this means your chin is parallel to the floor. You may have to adjust your desk arrangement for this to be possible. You may consider using a small stand to lift your monitor a few inches, or a standing desk which allows for height adjustments and can get you off your feet when you need it.

Wrist pain

Preventing wrist pain at work is vital to avoiding serious, long-term injury. To do so, you first must fix your sitting posture. Good thing we’ve already got that one covered. Next, you’ll want to be sure you’re using your keyboard and mouse correctly to avoid strain. If you feel your wrists starting to ache, take a break, evaluate your posture, and do some stretches that can help ease the pain.

At the end of the day, no job is worth your misery. If you find something isn’t for you, know that it’s never too late to make a change for the sake of your mental and physical well-being.

Photo: Norbert Levajsics (Unsplash)

One thought on "Office Pains 101: How to Survive a Desk Job"

  • Nathalie Argueles says:

    Interesting. This looks super cool. I haven’t read it all yet, but I’ll be back to read the rest of it.

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