Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with
Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay
healthier while working.
The ringing telephone, a looming deadline, a frowning supervisor,
financial worry, resentment towards a coworker--stress comes in many
forms. When we are alarmed or startled, our bodies react with a stress
response. Our sympathetic nervous system becomes activated and we hold
our breath and experience increased muscle tension, cold hands and feet,
clammy hands, and butterflies in the stomach. Chronic stress can have
cumulative effects on our bodies and can manifest in many ways, such as
immune system depression, hypertension, musculoskeletal pain, migraine,
irritable bowel syndrome, decreased fertility, and more. Over the long
run, chronic stress decreases our ability to perform by depleting our
resources and results in burn-out.
Almost any threatening thought or stimuli (such as being late) will
trigger an alarm reaction. It takes just seconds to respond to a stressor.
Take control of your reactions to stressful situations by practicing the
HOW TO DO THE QUIETING REFLEX:*
- Become aware of the stress stimuli (a worry, annoyance, or anxiety, or
muscle tension). Ask yourself: "Is it life threatening?" If not, go on
to the next step.
- Smile inwardly with your mouth and with your eyes sparkle to the left
and right. Just moving your eyes side to side can remind you that there is
more than one way of seeing any situation, no matter how terrible it seems
right now. Might it even seem amusing 5 years from now? Say to yourself,
"Alert mind, calm body." Or substitute another coping phrase, such as "I
can relax" or "I can choose peace instead of this."
- Inhale a slow, deep, abdominal breath. Exhale, and let your jaw,
tongue, and shoulders go loose. Feel a wave of heaviness flowing through
your body, all the way down to your toes.
- Take another easy breath. Exhale, and feel a wave of warmth flowing
through your entire body, streaming through your arms and legs as though
they were hollow tubes, and feel the warm air flowing out your fingers and
- React to every stressor with the Quieting Response.
OPTIONAL: Smile 5 times today at people you don't usually smile at:
service people, check-out clerks, toll collectors, complete strangers and
even your co-workers. What was their response? What was the effect on
*Adapted from Stroebel, C.F. (1982). QR: The Quieting Reflex. New York:
G.P. Putnam's Sons and Peper, E., Gibney, K.H. & Holt. C. (2002). Make
Health Happen: Training Yourself to Create Wellness. Dubuque, IA: