RLS in the Workplace
Last updated: January 2023
I have just started a new job a couple of days a week. It’s pretty exciting stuff. I’m now a part-time medical receptionist at a podiatry practice. And it turns out I love it. Due to some complicated health issues, I have been out of the workforce for 4 years.
I left my career as a musician and teacher behind and have been flailing around for a while – trying to get well and work out what to do with my life. After a lifetime of unpredictable hours and income, I now have fixed work times and a regular income. It’s quite empowering.
Working with restless legs syndrome
But one thing I had to take into consideration when going back into the workforce was my restless legs syndrome (RLS). There are some jobs I just could not cope with. I have to work in an environment where I can move around freely as required and not bother other people if I find myself feeling particularly jiggly.
I’m sure there are employment situations where discussing RLS would be important during the hiring process, but I didn’t mention it. I figured it would all work itself out. And it has.
A day on the clock
I sit behind a desk a lot of the day, and despite concentrating on the tasks at hand, I still find my legs are tapping away. But thanks to the high counter in front of me, none of the patients can tell.
I don’t feel any level of self-consciousness about my restless body. My job also involves a myriad of non-desk-based tasks, which see me getting up and moving around to different locations on a pretty constant basis.
In my 8.5 hours at work yesterday, my watch didn’t once tap me on the wrist and tell me to stand up and move. So, the work naturally enables me to get up and wander around quite frequently. It is a mixed bag of standing-up and sitting-down work, with the occasional bout of walking off somewhere.
Bringing up the topic of RLS
It is an ideal situation for me, and I am very grateful. I cannot imagine being confined to a desk all day and having neighbors nearby frustrated by my inability to sit still.
If the need ever arose, I would happily bring up the topic of restless legs syndrome with my employer, and I am very confident in her willingness to accommodate my needs as long as I am getting the job done. But so far, the conversation has not been required.
Working from home with RLS
My secondary job is writing, and I do that while standing up. My husband and son very kindly made a standing desk for me on Mother’s Day, and it sits in pride of place in my living area. I can write and fidget at the same time.
I secretly hope that all this standing and wriggling around from one spot to the next contributes to my overall level of physical activity and decreases the amount of sedentary time I have each day.
Finding a happy balance
Because let’s face it, for many people, the modern lifestyle is not as active as it perhaps should be. The workforce is full of different job opportunities, but not all of them are conducive to living with RLS.
A certain amount of workplace flexibility is essential. I am very fortunate indeed to have found that happy balance.
Do you find that what you eat or drink impacts your RLS symptoms?