If you really want to make friends with your coworkers (or just get strange looks from them), try standing two or three feet above them all day long. That's right, get yourself a standing desk.
When I first started working at The Huffington Post in June 2011, the buzz surrounding the health benefits of standing desks had just begun. In college, I hacked together a makeshift standing desk using a milk crate and an old cardboard box, and I loved it. But, being the smallest fish in a very big pond at HuffPost, I didn't want to "stand" out (pun intended) in a bad way, so I reluctantly went about my day from a seated position.
To my pleasant surprise, a few weeks later, I found a treadmill desk in the office. "Hey, maybe this company is more receptive to this movement than I thought." So, I took to working from the desk on occasion, and actually blogged about it, too. Unfortunately, the setup wasn't the most convenient thing in the world (for obvious reasons), and I found myself at the desk less and less each week.
After a few painful months hunched over at my desk, my brilliant colleague Justin Isaf pulled me aside and asked if I would join him in requesting a pair of standing desks for the two of us. Of course I was willing to help, and when our new standing desks arrived a few weeks later, I was happy as a clam.
For the eight weeks I used that desk, I felt like a million bucks. Sure, I got some funny looks from my coworkers, but overall it was an amazing experience. Not only was I feeling healthier and more energized, but it gave me an opportunity to meet new people and tell them about the dangers of sitting all day.
Sadly, when I left the New York office in mid-May in favor of a remote working arrangement in my native St. Louis, I couldn't take the desk with me. Of course, I told myself I would set up my own standing workstation at home, but I got busy and lazy, and two months later I find myself typing this while hunched over at a small desk in my kitchen.
Unfortunately for me, I suffer from a particularly painful inflammatory condition called costochondritis (otherwise known as Tietze syndrome). Most likely caused by a combination of stress and spinal misalignment, the cartilage that connects my ribs to my sternum becomes inflamed and causes sharp stabbing pains, pressure and tightness in my chest, and occasionally pain that radiates down my arm and in my back. It's not only painful but terrifying, since the symptoms mimic a heart attack. The condition flared up once or twice in New York, but once I got the standing desk I didn't have any issues. I was thrilled. But, now that I'm back to working all day from a seated position, it's back and more painful than ever.
So, I'm now in the process of hacking together another standing desk using an old dresser and some scrap plywood. It should be about a $20 project, but the benefits will be priceless.
For anyone suffering from back pain or any other inflammatory condition caused by spinal issues, I'd recommend giving the standing desk a shot. Sure, you might get some funny looks, but you might also rid yourself of chronic pain and discomfort and add a few years on to your life, too.
Have you tried (or considered trying) a standing desk? Let me know about your experience in the comments!
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