Stress: Avoid Desktop Stress (cont.)

Moderator: Do you advise businesses to have massages provided?

Zalma: Yes. Very much so. There's been a trend in the last five years that originally went with companies thinking massage would be slacking and taking time away from their employee's work. Now with the Internet and more companies coming out, progressive young companies are saying this is a beneficial benefit, cause not only are you increasing morale with stress-free, happier employees, but you're reducing stress-related injuries. A lot of people are getting neck and back pain, stress related injuries and carpal tunnel claims. They're costing millions of dollars. So, we come in there and say we'll reduce your stress, and search and destroy the ailments we find and improve the attitude.

Zalma: So, we're taking what might have been a stressed and overworked environment and making it more positive. Also, companies are overworking their employees, the hours used to be 9-5, I haven't found that in a long time~! They're working 10-12 hours and on Saturdays ... there's no overtime ... so this is like saying "we appreciate you and we want to take care of you." More and more companies are paying for it and seeing it not only as a benefit, but as a necessity.

Moderator: How can workers convince their superiors that this is a good idea?

Zalma: Have them set up a demo with me! (laughs) The companies that are most against it, I've found, are the ones that really don't like making their employees happy. They think they have to work as hard and as long as they can and like it. More companies see that a happy employee makes a harder working employee and they're more up to it. Go to your HR department and say "My staff is stressed out and I'm stressed out, this seems like a great idea and we can work longer and better." It can't hurt to try a demo. If you don't like it, we'll never see you again! Some companies we'll see once a month, some once a day .. do it according to your company's needs and what you can afford. But, it is fathomable for almost every company.

Moderator: How can someone relieve stress by himself or herself?

Zalma: It goes back to what I was talking about earlier ... stretching, a good diet ... When you're eating like crap, it comes out in your body. Sugar levels go down, if you eat a lot of fatty foods, when you eat heavy, you get tired. Exercise. It has an amazing effect on stress, the more you do, the less stress you have, there's an outlet there. Massage is good, helps relieve the stress and bring your body back to an even kilter. Drink lots of water, keep your body hydrated, it can deal with stress better.

Moderator: Are there simple exercises, stretches or meditations one can do at the desk?

Zalma: Mm hmm, quite a few. The first would be .... I'll start with hands, a lot of people get cramps from typing. Put them in the prayer position, bring the elbows parallel with the ground and then push, moving from the hands to opening the hands up so your fingers are being stretched and hold that for 15-20 seconds. The next one is if you've ever made a shadow finger of a butterfly, putting thumbs together and fingers apart, pull one thumb as far as you can and pull the other one at the same time. Hook them - exactly. A lot of people think wrist pain is coming from the wrist, but there are no muscles there, they're in your forearm. So, anything you can do to relieve those muscles in the forearm will help the hand and wrist. So, take your hand against a desk with fingers at the tip and bring the palm down as far as you can, stretching the bottom part of the forearm, then flip it around, almost like a self-defense move, don't push too hard, just lightly. Do that with both hands. Do the same thing with the thumb, pulling it under the table or stretching that one big muscle in the palm.

Other things are a way to self-massage your arms. Take a tennis or racquet ball and put it on your desk, put it on the muscle, put pressure on it and roll ... it's like someone putting their thumb on it. Other stretches are more neck related. Sit up straight, turn your head 45 degrees left or right, you'll do both, grab from the top of your head, you're looking at the inside of your elbow, then pull straight down, chin to chest, hold for 15 seconds, then resist if you want to get really technical. That way you'll trick the muscle into stretching a little farther. From that position, you can turn your head in about 2-3 degrees and stretch again and that'll change your muscle group. Do that on both sides. The last one of those is pull your chin straight to your chest, grab the top of the head with both hands, and pull straight down. Hold that for 15-20 seconds and you can also do the contract and release if you want. That alone will get rid of jaw pain (TMJ) to neck and shoulder pain, kinks in your neck, it's a good series of stretches.

Zalma: Other things are stand up and touch the sky, reach as far up as you can. Grab your elbows and pull them together, hug yourself, stretches the back and chest. Do light neck rolls and shoulder stretches, all the things we learned in PE in grade school (laughs!)

Moderator: Please explain what a chair massage is.

Zalma: A chair massage is usually done in a specially designed chair with a pad for the chest and face and arms. You slump forward and your arms rest on a pad in the front of you and your face goes into a circular pad, puts you in the fetal position. You do it fully clothed in the corner of an office somewhere, we work on your neck, arms, hands and back. Or we can flip you around and work on the legs, they range from 10-35 minutes. And, you can touch on most trouble areas.

Moderator: Smoking seems to relieve stress for me tempo,rarily but I've heard it can ultimately make stress worse. Do you know anything about this?

Zalma: Smoking causes vasoconstriction, which limits the blood to your organs and systems. It closes up your veins and arteries, just like coffee, and prevents liquid from going into your body. Smoking has a maleffect because you're not getting as much oxygen into your lungs and are becoming dependent on it as well, so you might get a temporary relief from having a smoke, but the long term effects are much more damaging than any short term gain.

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