NEWS • 29 October 2014

8 Ways to avoid headaches at work

Staring at a screen for many hours a day is one of the unfortunate realities of modern life. As web designers, it’s especially bad as your craft is all about focusing on pixels on a screen. If all this isn’t bad enough, just imagine how bad it would be if this caused you a daily ‘chronic’ headache. Sadly, we noticed that one of our team – who kept their ailment nobly to himself – was popping paracetemols almost every day to relieve himself of these daily migraines.

So, we had an immediate group pseudo-medical chinwag to discuss ways to beat this. We each came up with a suggestion which we united to create the following 8 point plan. However, to make sure these weren’t just myths, we looked into the proven medical efficacies. Here dear reader are our conclusions:

Drink lots of water

So this suggestion actually came from the patient himself and it’s fair to say he practiced what he preached. He always kept a pint glass of water on his desk, and must have been drinking 2 litres a day. So did this actually help or hinder? A quick online search found that the bastion of truth the Daily Mail agreed – But uh-oh, the dangers of overhydration can be just as bad and can cause headaches:

CONCLUSION: drink just the right amount of water

Stand up and move around

Another hypothesis from the subject himself. Again, he was a keen practitioner of this – walking round the office while on the phone etc. There’s not a lot of advice one way or the other on this, though it seems plainly obvious that if the headaches are caused by sitting at a desk looking at a screen, they will be helped by not doing this!

CONCLUSION: right on

Make sure your posture is correct – sitting straight with screen in front of you

‘How to sit correctly’ is an important skill to learn it seems. A quick review of the patient showed he slouched badly and his screen was too low. Let’s ask the NHS:

CONCLUSION: sit correctly please

Change your desk chair – to a ball, or weird kneely thing?

So the whole ball thing seems to work if you have back-ache, or when a back-ache is actually the cause of the headaches. Brogan Driscoll of the Huffington Post ( is a fan. But it seems like a pretty desperate solution. Again, the kneeling chair seems to help when back-ache is a possible cause.

CONCLUSION: life’s short, give it a go.

Daily Exercise

This piece of advice came from the more smug fitness fanatics amongst us. It’s a fairly obvious one really as Lucy Rathier of Brown University says: “Regular exercise can reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines. When one exercises, the body releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Exercise reduces stress and helps individuals to sleep at night. Stress and inadequate sleep are two migraine triggers.”

CONCLUSION: throw away your oyster card and walk/run/cycle to work

Look out the window into middle distance

This nifty tip opened our eyes to another nasty ailment: ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’. Sure enough, focusing your eyes on points at least 20 feet from your computer helps. There’s many more clever tips though:

CONCLUSION: don’t get Computer Vision Syndrome

Drink less/more coffee!

Ok, it seems like the medical advice is to drink less coffee or cafeine. Though caffeine addicts do suffer headaches after periods of withdrawl –

CONCLUSION: drink less/more coffee!

Stop taking headache pills

The main advice from our little chinwag was to stop taking headache pills everyday. Reviewing the advice from the experts revealed the alarming fact that actually taking headache pills actually helps cause the headaches –

CONCLUSION: drop the pills

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