A woman staring hopelessly at her desk filled with work to do. Career, work life balance, stress, working

Working Virtually Is A Pain!

When the Pandemic hit, we were all sent home from our jobs and schools.

For a while things were pretty easy breezy. Wake up when you want, eat when you want, watch “Tiger King” and then go online to read “Tiger King” memes. At least for me, it was the vacation I was needing for so many years.

And then, our jobs and schools needed us again. They got tired of our easy breezy lives and actually wanted us to work again. The nerve!

But, regulations stated that we must all stay home.

And thus began the Virtual Era

Jobs gave us projects to do at home, and endless Zoom calls.

Teachers started teaching virtually and uploading assignments to virtual classrooms. And for me, and millions of other teachers, we got to do all of the above.

Believe me when I say, other than keeping Covid out of my body, I would have much rather been in the classroom with my students.

Because, after a while, working virtually is a pain!

A pain in my back

While my ADA accommodations gave me the right to sit in the classroom, I still had the option to walk around to teach, and talk.

Teaching virtually, I had to sit all day long! There were no breaks because I had smaller groups of students spread out throughout the day.

Sitting down for too long is a real pain in the back. And the longer I sit, the more pain I experience. I watched video recordings of my lessons and in the later classes, I would see myself rocking around, cracking my neck, and flexing to find any movement in my spine. I could actually see how I wasn’t really paying attention to my students because I was in too much pain.

And because I was wearing my Marvel Superhero PJ pants, most of the time, I couldn’t stand up. (Don’t judge, you did it too)

All this virtual teaching, meeting, and reading assignments was too much to handle. After some time, I didn’t want to sit down anymore and found myself standing to watch TV. Of course, the problem being, AxSpA doesn’t let me stand very long either. It’s a vicious circle of pain.

Pain in my eyes

Eye strain in the digital world has become a problem. We spend most of our days, whether we want to admit it or not, with our eyes on some kind of screen. The problem has become so common that eyeglasses now come with “blue-blocking” lenses. We know we can’t log off, so let’s do what we can to save our eyes.

There was a time when I could get my eyes off a screen. In the classroom, I spent most of my time looking at my students, books, and whiteboards. I spent very little time looking at my computer.

In the virtual era, students, books, and whiteboards were all moved to the computer. There was no escaping, and I had to look at a screen for hours on end.

My eye strain has been almost as unbearable as my physical strain. Eye drops no longer seem to have an effect on my dryness. I have trouble focusing on things that are not right in front of me, and at night I can't get the images of my students and online textbooks out of my unconscious vision.

Pain in my brain

My back pain and eye strain are pretty bad, but my mental status took a hard hit as well working virtually.

For starters, working online can be pretty lonely. There is no replacing actual human contact. I love seeing my students online, but I miss their high fives, fist bumps, and the ora of happiness that they pass onto me. You can’t get any of this online.

Brain fog is another symptom of working online with AxSpA.

The constant use of our eyes and the strain from sitting makes the mind get a bit hazy. We lose track of time, images are burned into our subconscious, and shutting off our brains to sleep becomes more difficult. We become the walking dead, moaning, groaning, and grasping for names and information.

This is at least what I feel while working virtually.

Working virtually is pain!

Back pain, eye pain, and brain pain are all symptoms of working online. And don’t forget hand pain, which I am experiencing while writing this article.

Working from home seemed like the perfect gig in the beginning. But, over time, it has become a real challenge.

My advice to my fellow weary online working warriors is to find a comfortable chair or seat cushion. Take eye breaks, when you can. And try your hardest to limit unnecessary screen time, especially before bed.

Listen to your body and give it what it wants. Working virtually is a pain, but it doesn't have to be.

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