Allison Morris recently asked me if I wanted to share a graphic she created  about taking breaks. It’s a great graphic and a good message. Since I’m actually an expert on the topic of the necessity of taking breaks, I will share some of my own experiences that relate to RSI or repetitive strain injury.

How does this have anything to do with style, you may ask?

A whole lot in my opinion.

As I have written before, feeling good about yourself, your activities and your health will help you be more confident, more outgoing and yes, more stylish. I always realise this when I’m ill or not feeling 100%. It’s hard to feel stylish when your health lets you down. My condition was partly caused by my intense work ethic and the reluctance of taking breaks.

The importance of taking breaks

So here is a great reminder on the importance of taking breaks, beautifully summarized in a graphic created by

How to cure RSI repetitive strain injury

How I developed RSI

Since I have been doing extensive computer work for more than 10 years now and combine that with the poor posture problems I described before, it was perhaps inevitable that I developed a condition called RSI or repetitive strain injury. This collective term includes conditions like carpel tunnel syndrome and tendonitus. I prefer to use the general term of RSI as I never really pinpointed exactly what my problem is. All I can tell you that when it strikes, I’m basically incapable of doing any typing or computer work. And I can forget about playing tennis too.

When it first struck me almost 10 years ago, I was totally shocked by it. The intense pain that you can feel from little movements and the complete incapacity to do anything with your arms was devestating for me. I had just started my business for which I used the computer a LOT and loved what I was doing. Giving up my computer was NOT an option.

So I began my tour of ‘specialists’ to tackle the problem and it quickly became clear that most of them don’t really know what to do about RSI. I read horror stories online of people taking lots of medication and being incapitated for years. I decided to do a lot of my own research and together with the advice of some (mostly alternative) practitioners I have been able to keep my RSI under control. I like to share with you what I do, so hopefully you will be able to prevent the condition or use the techniques I use to live with it.

Please note that I’m not an expert in this field, so always seek the advice of a professional for an expert opinion for your particular condition!

Here is what I do to keep my RSI under control.

  • I bought a good chair and use the Herman Miller Aaron chair.
  • The mouse click was the worst trigger point for my RSI so I now do all my ‘mouse’ work with a pen. I have the Wacom Intuos tablet and pen and it is much nicer to use this than a mouse. You avoid those little micro movements that are so bad for your hand and arm muscles. Of course it will take some getting used to in the beginning, but once you are familiar with it, it is so much nicer. A few persons to whom I recommended this have confirmed to me that it made a drastic improvement or eliminated their RSI symptoms. An extra benefit is that you can draw and write with it too!
  • I have software installed on my computer that ‘forces’ me to take microbreaks and rest breaks. Both are also discussed in the graphic. The software I currently use Time Out but I have also used AntiRSI. The breaks can be extremely annoying, of course, but they break the intensity in my work and I always get punished when I ignore them.
  • I use my microbreaks to look away from my computer and out of my window which prevents eye strain.
  • I use my rest breaks to do some stretching exercizes. I stretch out my arms and my shoulders.
  • I go for a remedial massage at least twice a month. Although my pain normally concentrates in my arms or fingers, I find that if you keep your shoulders relaxed and open, you will have fewer symptoms. I actually don’t let my therapist massage my arms very thoroughly as I have felt that it increases symptoms. The neck, shoulders and back however get very thorough treatment.
  • When I break my own rules (like working through rest breaks, which unbelievably I still do sometimes) and get more serious symptoms, I actually work on the trigger points myself. I use my knees or an object to put a lot of pressure on a trigger point in my arm to ‘break’ it and then stretch it out. This kind of self treatment can be quite painful, but I don’t have to do it often and it’s been very effective for me.
  • I try to keep good posture. Still my most challenging task, but I always make sure that my arm is level with my pen, which is why a good arm rest on your chair is very important.

With all these measures in place, I’m happy to say that mostly my RSI does not interfere with my life and work and I can keep writing daily articles for you.

Remember, preventing RSI is much better than trying to cure or maintain it, so even if you don’t have any symptoms, you may still want to apply some of the above points to your daily routine. Starting with the rest breaks is definitely a VERY good idea.

I hope these tips can help you in any way and if you have any good tips of your own, let me know! 

This information was given to you for information purposes only.  Always seek the advice of a professional for an expert opinion for your particular condition!

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