Last month, I suggested standing up and walking away as a means of lowering stress levels, while increasing focus and productivity. This month, I’m taking that a step further, suggesting you find a way to stand while you write—at least some of the time. Yes, really. Standing while working improves problem-solving ability, increases energy, and lowers stress-levels.

Solving Problems. If you’ve ever gotten up to get a snack or a cup of coffee while stuck on a problem, you’ve already experienced this. Standing encourages movement (if you’re sitting, there is no need to get up and move around). Movement encourages higher-order thought. Plus, moving while thinking something through will engage more of your brain in the problem. Movement related to the problem at hand is best, but not at all required (as proven by the trips to the coffee pot). If you can act out a scene, or even draw it out, you’ll have better results—and get them more quickly—than if you stayed glued to your chair.

Higher Energy. When you stand, your body fills with additional energy. You can see this in speakers who stand when addressing their audiences versus the ones who sit—you should feel this in yourself as well. Kai Ryssdal of American Public Media’s “Marketplace” projects tremendous energy during his broadcasts, and apparently stands during them. You can literally hear it.

Lower Stress Levels. Last month’s column talked about this in greater depth. By standing, you lower your stress levels, reducing the hormonal response, which, among other things, improves the blood flow to the brain. This instantly makes you smarter!

If you’re sold on standing, but aren’t sure where to start, here is the game plan:

Find a Workspace. This isn’t as tricky as you may think. Kitchen counters, islands, and console tables all make reasonable standing desks. Plus, the change of scenery may inspire something. You can also simply elevate the worksurface on your traditional desk. If you use a laptop, it can be as simple as setting it on those phone books you never use. And, of course, you can buy a new desk. There are tons of options—from laptop desks that you can use anywhere (and have as a second desk) to convertible desks that raise and lower to standing desks.

Start Slowly. Going from 0 to 60 is a guaranteed way to end up sore, tired, and discouraged. Start out standing just an hour or two a day – and with the easy stuff: email, phone calls, proofing. Slowly add time. And, never assume that you have to stand all day long. There are some things you may simply be worse at when you stand—find those things and feel free to sit.

Try this for just 4 days, and let me know how it works for you, I bought my standing desk almost a year ago, and I can’t imagine being without it.

Jen Waak is a Seattle-based movement coach who uses a system that combines eastern philosophy with western medicine to reprogram the nervous system and get people out of pain, moving better, and feeling younger.


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