There is a huge emphasis in our society on being flexible, and not inconveniencing anyone. Not asking for more, or taking up space. While there is value in being adaptive, there is also sacrifice. This can lead to chronically unmet needs, and conditions that are not supportive to our health and wellbeing. Recognizing unmet needs, and figuring out creative ways to meet them, can be an empowering and healthful journey. With this in mind, I've set out to try and make my workplace- where I spent a ridiculous number of hours every day- work better for me.
I started with making my workplace feel welcoming. This has included some aesthetically questionable choices like taping letters I'm proud of, gifts from clients (mostly poems and sketches from my memory care clients), & dying flowers I find on walks directly onto my wall at eye level. I picked my favourite oils for a diffuser, so it smells nice (and less like cat box). The content will be ever evolving, reflecting what is happening in each phase. The actual physical desk part has been the larger project, and where the product review comes in.
Standing desks have become more trendier with the "sitting is the new smoking" rhetoric- this is a perspective that has been spoken to many times, and is not what I want to discuss in this post. I want to speak to the use of standing desks as adaptive equipment that can be beneficial for disabilities, injuries, and general wellbeing. To me, this is an expansive point of view on what a healthy lifestyle is- a way of living that supports health and wellbeing, that is actually individualized. It goes beyond what we think of as a "healthy lifestyle" of vegetables and moving more (which might not be healthful for some people), but into what actually promotes health for you. When I think of adaptive desks, Frida Kahlo's desk also comes to mind- modified so she could lie in bed to paint when sitting became unbearable. Maybe you need to sit more, maybe you need to stand more, maybe you need to lie completely flat- whatever is most helpful for you, you should be able to pursue that without hesitation.
With the popularity of different styles and heights of desks, I've done some pretty DIY modifications in the past to see how they feel- when I was a student I had an old bookshelf that had one thick shelf that was the right height for me to stand at and study. When AnthroDesk contacted me to see if I wanted to try out one of their products, I was excited to try a "proper" standing desk. The timing couldn't have been better- I had an enormous amount of studying to do for a course, and coming out of a recent painful health event I was having a difficult time getting comfortable in any one position for long periods of time. Back and pelvic pain is associated with some of my health conditions, and sitting for long periods of time can be tedious, uncomfortable, and distracting.
I do most of my work on a laptop, so they sent me the manual desk converter to try for free (in exchange for an honest opinion about my experience). The desk literally took me 5 minutes to assemble while watching an episode of Call the Midwife.
I started standing for a period of time, then placing it on the floor as a handy side table while I sat. I find when I'm standing I can focus for longer, and can sway, stretch, stand on alternate feet etc. It is dynamic, especially because I alternate between sitting and standing while working. The variety means longer focus, more alertness, and more physical variety to a monotonous day of studying and working. I typically wear a TENS unit to manage back comfort for long studying sessions, and have used it considerably less, which is a reliable indicator that I am feeling less pain when I am able to alternate between sitting and standing. While it is maybe not the most secure, and not an intended use, I found it really convenient to balance my laptop on the frame, and take notes on the surface.
Something to note is that it does take up some space if you are alternating sitting with standing, so you'd have to make sure it works with your workspace. For someone with decreased strength, it could be challenging to lift it up and down.
I'm very pleased to see the difference that adjusting one aspect of my workplace can make. What could you change in your environment to make your life more comfortable, and promote your wellbeing? When you push past the trends, fads, and what you are told you "should" be doing- what remains that will make your life more healthful and vital?