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ealthy Computing Tips

Healthy Computing: Change your Breath

© Erik Peper PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by Erik Peper PhD. View all columns in series
When working at the computer we generally breathe 30% more rapidly than when just sitting and relaxing. When boys play computer games they usually increase their respiration rate by about 80%. Rapid and shallow breathing may contribute to neck and shoulder tension, referred pain down the arms and into the hands, muscle irritability and tiredness. Improve and maintain your health when you observe and Change your breath.

How to Observe and Change Your Breath
Sit comfortably in a chair. Drop your hands to your lap, relax and study your breathing patterns. Observe where and how rapidly the breathing movements occur. Does your stomach expand when you inhale and contract when you exhale? Is your exhalation longer than your inhalation? As you exhale, can you count to five or longer?

Now place your hand on your mouse and perform fine mouse movements. Concentrate and focus your attention as you manipulate and click the mouse. Draw your name backward with the mouse and left click after each letter. As you performed the mousing task, did you notice that your body stiffened and became more still and fixed, that your breathing pattern shifted higher into your chest, or that you breathed more rapidly? In almost all cases, breathing shifts higher in the chest and becomes more rapid.

Use this observation to remind yourself to breathe lower and slower. Imagine that you have a balloon in your stomach that enlarges when you inhale and becomes smaller when you exhale. Allow your exhalation time to increase by reducing the airflow. Make sure that you exhale completely. Imagine that you are gently blowing air over your lovers or babys eyelids. Do this with a slight smile.

During the day, observe your breathing. If you find that you are breathing rapidly or in your chest, slow your exhalation and shift your breathing to your abdomen. Practice slow breathing before you begin a task.

Copyright 2003 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney
Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written consent of the copyright holders
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About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco State University. He is President of the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (2005) and past President of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.......more
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