About 3 years ago I scored a standing desk for my office when there was a bit of money available for new office furniture in my building. And it changed my school counseling practice.
A stand up desk is a desk that allows me to stand up and work instead of sit. The desk that I have is a height adjustable version so that I can choose to alternate between standing up and sitting down. It has a desk space large enough for my phone, to keep my computer (as another screen or shut), and for my paper and pencil to do lists and hallway passes. There is also room for my tea. The key board is on its own level. And I love it!
There have been so many benefits of my standing up desk that I have convinced my entire counseling team to join the party and get a standing desk for their own office. It has not only improved my health but it has also improved my work productivity as a school counselor.
First off, I noticed immediately how a standing desk impacted my mood. Being in a chair for a large part of my day, was challenging. I do not do well in a sedentary position. As an active person, moving is important to my overall mental health. Tasks such as scheduling and 504 plans became a little more bearable. Longer projects were also way more fun.
I also noticed the difference on my physical body. At my desk before, I was often craning my neck and leaning forward to see my screen. By using a standing desk I no longer do this. My computer is the proper height, creating the proper ergonomics to last the entire day. Also, goodbye back pain, achey legs, or crunched backs. When I am sore from a workout the day before, I can easily get rid of the lactic acid and stretch it out.
The change in my mood and the change on my physical body I believe helped increase my work productivity. With a more positive mood and impact on my body, my energy increased. Standing really helps me combat energy lulls. Before my standing desk, I would often get cloudy brain or sluggish in the afternoon. The energy I have from my standing desk allows me to be more efficient and productive throughout the day.
At first, I believed that I would use my standing desk in the standing position only when I had computer intensive work such as when schedules were due or when I was developing programs. You know what I am talking about- when you have to click your mouse 19 times to accomplish one task. However, because of the benefits, I have rarely used the sit down position. Of course, when I am doing counseling or conflict mediations I sit down in an alternate chair to be in tune with my students and on their level [see picture below]. However, for all other tasks you can find me standing. When students need to look at my screen to discuss grades or fill out a “cool down plan” then they stand too. For all other out of the office meetings such as in conference rooms or in teacher’s classrooms my computer goes with me to alternate locations and I obviously sit.
Companies of standing desks claim many other health benefits too. They say that standing desks decrease obesity, burn more calories, decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, and keep one from all the negative effects that sitting all day has on the body. I do not claim that I experienced these benefits but based on my own experience with a stand up desk in my school counseling practice, I can see how it may be true.
In the end, school counselors should consider requesting a standing desk like the one I have and trying it out for your own health benefits. Standing desks start at about $300, which I know for many may not be in your schools budget. For some school counselors, you may have to get a referral from your doctor. You then submit this referral to human resources who will most likely send someone out to see the ergonomics of your office. Or maybe not. I have been in education long enough to know that there are huge discrepancies between districts. They may offer some suggestions on how to improve it and you can too. At this point, you make a request for a standing desk.
So if your tired and moody or cranky maybe try a standing desk! Make it happen and let me know how it goes.