The Well9to5 Manifesto
- After 30 years of being subjected to high-stress, computer-centric, indoor desk jobs, we office workers are coming around to the notion that there must be a better way.
- Our minds reel as we deal with 24/7 work connectivity, information overload, and ever-increasing productivity expectations.
- Our bodies ache from back pain and repetitive strain injuries, and our long-term health is threatened by sitting disease, unhealthy food, and chronic stress.
- Our spirits sag in the face of noisy open-office plans, the inexorable hum of HVAC systems and fluorescent lighting, hostile co-workers, and the erosion of privacy and other personal boundaries.
- Most of us enjoy the work we do and don’t begrudge our employer getting a good day’s work out of us.
- We just want to reclaim and maintain our health and dignity while we get the job done.
- We want to be human at work, to express ourselves authentically, and otherwise comport ourselves as the vibrant, vital beings that we are.
- We want to optimize our work performance, both for the intrinsic rewards and to feel balance in our lives.
- We want to be comfortable and healthy.
- We want to move more.
- We want an office environment helps us reach our true human potential (or at least doesn’t stifle it).
- We recognize that the very technology that contributes so much to this situation shows promise for getting us out of it.
- But we also know that real change in the office, or anywhere, begins with human beings changing their behavior, finding a better way to go about things. That process starts with stories, and we’re gathering here to tell them.
I’m eager to hear your story, but since I’m the first one here, I’ll kick things off by sharing mine.
Most of the writing you see here is by the Founder of Well9to5, Larry Swanson. For the past decade, I have made my living as a massage therapist and fitness and wellness educator. Before, during, and after that career, I also worked in the publishing field, both online publications as well as old-fashioned books.
Those are pretty divergent career paths. The short version of how they go together: 12 years in high-powered, high-stress book publishing positions wrecked my low back, which led to years of self-care and medical research, culminating in my enrollment in massage school. I worked my way through massage school as a senior manager at an online publisher during the original dot-com boom in the late 1990s.
Over my massage career, most of it in downtown Seattle, I’ve helped hundreds of office workers cope with the vagaries of desk work. My interest in office wellness originally arose from the pain patterns, posture issues, and ergonomic challenges I observed in those clients.
My interest in office wellness was further piqued by the discovery that sitting disease was a very real threat to my clients’ health. My clinical work, research, and writing in this area culminated in 2014 with the publication of “Scared Sitless: The Office Fitness Book,“ the first book to look specifically at sitting disease in the office and to propose a holistic antidote for it.
That book ended up focusing on physical fitness in the office. But the original manuscript had also included many other chapters inspired by my massage clients’ stories of stress, anxiety, frustration, and disengagement at work.
The Well9to5 Story
Well9to5 is not just about me finally doing something with those leftover manuscript pages. It is an attempt to go beyond simple physical fitness to help you on your way toward true high-level wellness, even as you keep your office job.
I hope that the wellness information, practices, and tools we share here will help you navigate your journey to optimal physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and occupational well-being.
Anyone, whether they have an office job or not, can benefit from setting off on a wellness journey. The focus here at Well9to5, though, is on wellness for computer-using, desk-bound office workers. That’s who I know best. And that’s where a lot of interesting stuff is happening. From ubiquitous standing-desk Kickstarter campaigns to new computer interfaces, from walking meetings to lunchtime meditation sessions, from sitting on exercise balls to napping at work – there is no shortage of interesting office wellness topics to talk about.
But Well9to5 is not about simply talking and learning about wellness. It’s about walking the talk, about acting on the insights gleaned from research and experience. So I’ll continue to build on the behavior-change and habit-formation practices that I set out in “Scared Sitless.” And I look forward to hearing your success stories, too.
Now that I’m pretty much a full-time publisher myself (I still take a few massage appointments each week), working in an office at a computer most of the day, I can truly say that I am walking right alongside you on this journey. Heck, sometimes I feel like I’m scurrying to catch up with you. When I started researching and writing on office fitness in 2007, very few people had heard of sitting disease and it was hard to find a decent standing desk. Now I can barely keep up with the research. And nearly every day someone shows me a new standing desk or ergonomic gadget or tells me about some nifty new wellness practice that they’ve discovered.
My hope is that we can continue that trend here, to share discoveries with one another and to inspire each other with our stories of how we are making our way along the path to office wellness.
That’s my story. What’s yours?
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