ADHD · ergonomics · flexibility · health

At a desk? On the floor? Where is Christine working?

In an effort to spend less time sitting in a chair, I have been experimenting with standing, sitting on the floor, and lying down while I work, read, or watch TV and as I was going through all of those different positions while writing the other day, I reminded myself of this improv game:

Link to a video from the UK version of an improv TV show called ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ The image shows three men in blazers on a TV set, one is sitting, one is lying down, and one is standing.

I think I was less awkward than that but I can never be sure. 😉

Once upon a time, I had a standing desk. This was before my ADHD was diagnosed and I did find it quite useful because I could fidget a fair bit while doing my work. However, once I really dug into what I was working on, I would end up standing in the same position for long periods of time and my body was not a fan of that. 

In fact, I would actually end up with most of my weight on my right leg, my right hip jutted out a bit, with my left foot only lightly touching the floor to give me balance. I’m pretty damn sure that standing habit contributed to my overall challenges with my right hip. 

a flamingo stands on one leg in a wetland, the other leg is slightly raised and it’s knee is bent. ​
Fairly accurate depiction of my standing desk days. My office wasn’t quite as damp as this, though. Image description: a flamingo stands on one leg in a wetland, the other leg is slightly raised and its knee is bent.

I kept a standing desk for years but at some point, I realized that having to stand up to work had become one more obstacle between me and my tasks. It was mostly subconscious. It wasn’t like I was thinking ‘UGH! I have to stand up? Blech.’ But, over time, it was becoming harder to get started and once I dug into that feeling a bit I realized that standing up was part of the problem. 

So, I went back to a sitting desk but whenever I thought of it I would stand up to do voice dictation or I would prop my keyboard on something so I could type while standing. This, combined with a timer app that helps me focus for short periods and then take a break to move around a little, has helped me get important things done without sitting still for too long.

Then, last year, I started incorporating more squatting into my daily routine and I do a supported squat sometimes when I read or when I watch something.

And I often bring my yoga mat down to the living room when my husband and I are watching a show so I can do stretches or just sit on the floor while we watch. 

In January, once they went on sale, I bought a reading mat and bolster cushion so I could be even more comfortable lying or sitting on our laminate floor while I read, watch TV, chat with my family or even attend webinars where I don’t have to be on camera. 

So, I was already open to the idea of spending more time at floor level when I came across a video (below) a few weeks back from someone who always works from the floor. I have occasionally done some journaling or drawing while sitting on my mat but I hadn’t tried doing any extended work from the floor. If it did cross my mind, I probably dismissed it because I didn’t want to spend any extra time hunched over during the day. 

Before you watch this, I want to be clear that I am not necessarily endorsing the claims they make about the benefits of floor sitting and that I really wish they had said ‘dawn of humanity’ instead of ‘dawn of man.’

Link to video from a company called Plant Based Partners. The video is about the benefits of sitting on the floor to work and the still image shows a person with long hair sitting on the floor with one leg curled into a cross-legged position and the other folded into the position your leg holds in a squat. The person is sitting on a mat and is surrounded by low office furniture – a table, a credenza and a printer table. A small dog is also sitting on a soft mat nearby.

Once I saw the video though, I clued into the fact that I had more options besides hunching over or lying on my stomach to write in my notebook like a movie teenager –  I could raise my work surface to create a more comfortable working position.*

So, now I have a whole variety of ways to get comfortable while I work or relax and I feel better  for it. Switching positions during the day gets me moving but even when I am staying still I don’t end up holding the same posture for an extended period of time. 

My body likes that and so does my brain. 

Do you alternate positions during your work or relaxation time? Which ones work best for you?

Since all of our bodies work differently, I know that my options may not work for you but I would be interested to know what does. 

Do you schedule a time to shift? Do you choose positions based on task? Or do you just move when you get uncomfortable? 

I can’t rely on noticing that I am uncomfortable, sometimes ADHD hyperfocus gets the best of me, so I make a plan for what tasks I am going to do where, and I use a timer.

PS – In trying to find the link for the video above, I also found this very useful video for getting used to sitting on the floor. Tips for sitting on the floor – The Floor is your Friend: Comfortable sitting positions on the floor

*Meanwhile, if I had consciously decided to work on the floor, I would have had a full brainstorm of ideas about how to make it more comfortable. I hadn’t chosen to focus on it so my brain had just dismissed it without further consideration. Brains are such pests sometimes!


Christine H and Her Upper Back Make Friends (She Hopes!)

Like (almost) everyone and their (downward) dog, I was following Yoga with Adriene through her Breath practice in January.

Over and over again, I noticed that my upper back, my neck and my shoulders were annoyed with me. I’m pretty sure that the problem is starting behind my shoulder blades and extending from there.

I know why they are annoyed and I don’t blame them.

I keep hunching my shoulders up by my ears.

GIF description: Actor Kristen Bell, a white woman with blonde hair, who is wearing a blue plaid shirt, shrugs and grimaces.
Okay, so Kristen Bell (as Eleanor Shellstrop) is just shrugging and grimacing here. I always forget to do the ‘let your shoulders drop back down’ part. GIF description: Actor Kristen Bell, a white woman with blonde hair, who is wearing a blue plaid shirt, shrugs and grimaces.

If I am really fighting to concentrate, I’ve discovered that I actually push against my desk with one hand or with my elbows while I work.

I spend a lot of time looking down at my phone, of course.

If I get anxious, I tense all of those muscles. And if those muscles are especially tense, I can feel my anxiety levels rising.

I do try to notice when things get especially bad and I do take the time to stretch my upper body fairly regularly but Adriene’s inclusion of Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana) in this series of practices has made me realize that I haven’t been returning my upper back muscles to a relaxed state. I’ve been returning them to ‘somewhat less tense.’

So, I have decided to, in Adriene’s words, give my upper back muscles some attention this month.

I started on Monday with just some basic movements and stretches borrowed from my Taekwondo warm-ups and then I did some upper back yoga before bed. As the month goes along, I’ll add in some more specific physio type work and see what feels best.

I’m hoping that by the end of February, my upper back will stop being so frustrated with me.

Perhaps, we may even become friends.

GIF description: Two dogs, one with dark fur and one with light fur, are sitting in a field. The dark-furred dog suddenly wraps its front paws around the other dog in a hug. ​
I don’t know if my back and I will ever get along this well but, fingers crossed! GIF description: Two dogs, one with dark fur and one with light fur, are sitting in a field. The dark-furred dog suddenly wraps its front paws around the other dog in a hug.

Are any of your muscles annoyed with you on the regular?

How do you appease them?