Did you know that arthritis is the number-one cause of disability in the United States? Given this fact, it’s easy to believe that psoriatic arthritis can limit your career or ability to work. But, if you’re proactive and take control of your health, you don’t have to let your condition dictate your life! In fact, by making a few modifications to your work space, you can ensure a healthy working environment that will allow you to continue the career you want.
There are many adaptive tools you can use to help complete daily work tasks. The National Psoriasis Foundation’s Workplace Guide describes a few of them. (If you haven’t downloaded this resource yet, I highly recommend you do. It has great tips on your rights in the workplace, disclosing your condition, and more.) In addition to the adaptive tools in the NPF’s guide, the following four modifications can make your workstation psoriatic-arthritis friendly and help you make the most out of your workday.
1. Set up an ergonomic workstation
According to UCLA ergonomics, there are four key elements to achieving this setup. You need to focus on your chair; your mouse and keyboard; your monitor, documents and telephone; and lastly, pauses and breaks. For explicit directions on how to set up your workstation, refer to these guidelines and suggestions.
I personally have seen a tremendous impact from setting up my workspace like this. Without having a solid back support or supporting my joints when I’m typing, I absolutely feel the repercussions in my body. Don’t skimp on these adjustments. Believe me, they’re absolutely worth it. Some workplaces offer an ergonomic evaluation of your workstation and help you set it up correctly. Make sure to ask your human-resources representative if you have questions.
2. Upgrade your writing utensils
Setting up an ergonomic workstation may be beneficial for getting your work done, but what about taking notes during meetings and writing things down during the day?
There are a few ways to support your body for writing. The first is to purchase writing utensils that are conducive to arthritic hands. Ergonomic pens have large barrels that are easy to grip like this one. You’ll also want to look for gel pens that don’t require applying too much pressure while writing. If you have a favorite pen that you
still want to use, purchase a grip to append to the barrel. This will increase the size of the pen and help with ease of use.
Another great tool for modifying your writing capabilities is to purchase talk-to-text software like Nuance's Dragon. I’ve found this to be a great tool when writing long narratives and blog posts. This is a powerful tool that can be used for so much more than just typing a document. By training the software to recognize your voice, you can use voice commands to switch between programs. Best of all, it syncs up with most applications on your computer.
3. Arrange your space
Ensuring frequently used items are in easy reach of you is a great way to help lessen the burden on your body. The NPF’s Workplace Guide talks about considering the small movements you make on a daily basis. Reaching for certain files, the phone, your notepad, your pens — all of these movements add up. The more organized you are, the less tension you’ll create in your body. It may seem like a silly thing to think about, but it can have big impacts on your arthritic body.
In arranging your space, also make sure to add items to your space that will help promote health for your psoriatic arthritis. A timer or clock can motivate you to get up and take frequent breaks. Speakers can offer calming music. Decorations, such as pictures of your loved ones or your favorite quote, allow your body to be at ease and will help you love the space you’re in.
4. Create a psoriatic-arthritis toolkit
Planning ahead can help put your mind at ease for when you do have flare-ups at work. Create a toolkit to keep in your workspace that you can turn to when you have symptoms. Things like compression gloves, a heating pad, anti-inflammatories medications or supplements, ice packs, or your favorite anti-inflammatory lotion, such as doTERRA Deep Blue Rub or Icy Hot.
Not sure what else to put in your toolkit? Check out the items in my psoriatic arthritis toolkit .