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 Healthy Computing: How to Incorporate the Eight Components 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by . View all columns in series
Healthy computing incorporates optimum Work Style, Ergonomics, Mind/Body Awareness, Stress Management, Regeneration, Vision Care, Fitness and Positive Work Setting in a systems perspective while working at the computer. The integration of the eight components improves health, decreases discomfort and increases performance. The eight components are illustrated by the common activity of walking.

1. Work Style - Develop work habits that will help you to maintain health and avoid injury, such as taking breaks and pacing your workload.

Work Style describes the way you proceed with walking. Do you pace yourself so that you can finish your walk without exhaustion? Do you stop to take a breather? Do you relax your leg muscles as you shift from side to side, getting into the rhythm of walking?

2. Ergonomics - Adjust your workspace and equipment to suit your individual needs.

Ergonomics describes your shoes. Are they appropriate for the type of walk you are embarking upon? (Ever try jogging in high heels?) Do they fit comfortably so as to avoid blisters and chafing?

3. Mind/Body Awareness - Sense tension and reactivity and let go physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Mind/Body (Somatic) Awareness is listening to your body and following your inner voice. Do you stop to drink water when you are thirsty? If your heart is racing, do you slow down? When you feel warmth in your feet, do you stop to change socks to avoid a blister?

4. Stress Management - Handle life's compulsory stresses effectively whether at work or home - in a way that does not adversely affect your health (e.g., reframing events, communicating your needs, etc.). Work stress can include having too much responsibility with too little control, poor social support and/or conflicts with coworkers or supervisors, a heavy workload, and/or being bored with your job.

Stress Management is taking care of situations as they arise and not forcing yourself to do too much or getting bored from doing too little. Do you tell your walking companions that an advanced trail is too difficult for you or that the slow pace is not challenging? Do you let them know that you would prefer to listen quietly to nature as you walk rather than talk during the entire trek?

5. Regeneration - Allow your body to rebuild its storehouse of energy before becoming exhausted, thus preventing burnout and ill health.

Regeneration is allowing your body to rest and not pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion. Do you stop when you feel like you're getting tired, before you become exhausted? Do you give your body time to recuperate after pushing your limits with a short rest or a walk?

6. Vision Care - Protect your eyes from excessive strain and dryness (e.g., vision breaks, glare reduction, screen in focus) and wear prescription glasses that are appropriate for computer use.

Vision Care includes exercising your eyes and wearing appropriate eyewear. Do you alternate between looking at distant and close objects? Do you wear sunglasses when walking in the bright daylight? Do you wear a visor to protect your eyes from glare? Do you stumble on the rocky path because you need prescription glasses?

7. Fitness - Working at the computer is a daily athletic event that requires fitness for optimum performance and injury prevention.

Fitness includes stretching, strengthening, and movement. Do you warm up slowly as you begin your walk? Do you gently stretch after you are done? Do you exercise or cross train during the week to prepare for your next hike?

8. Positive Worksetting - Social support reduces arousal, ameliorates stress and increases performance.

Do you have a group of friends with whom you exercise? When you lack motivation do your friends encourage you to exercise? Do you get together with your friends for fun other than hiking?

Adapted from Peper, E. & Gibney, K. H. (2000). Healthy Computing with Muscle Biofeedback. Woerden: Biofeedback Foundation of Europe.

Copyright 2002 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney.

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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......moreErik Peper PhD
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