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ealthy Computing Tips

Healthy Computing: Relax and Breathe

© 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
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.

When performing accurate cursor movements with the mouse, do you find yourself holding your breath and freezing in place? Most of us stabilize our bodies and hold our breath when we perform precise work. Therefore, avoid fatigue when you RELAX AND BREATHE.


Begin by becoming aware of automatic breath holding patterns when performing precise tasks. Do the following:

Sit comfortably. Now, imagine that as you put on your shirt, the middle button falls off and that you must quickly sew it on. Get a needle with a very small eye. Hold this in between the thumb and index finger of your left hand. Take a white thread with your right hand and hold the thread between your right thumb and index finger. Bring the tip of the thread to your lips. Wet the thread to make it into a point and then thread the thread through the eye of the needle.

Now act out this threading of the needle. Really hold this imaginary needle in front of you, bring the tip of the thread to the eye of the needle. Literally see yourself threading the needle.

As you are focused and involved in this task, what is happening to your shoulders, the blinking of your eyes, the location and frequency of your breath, the muscle tension in your back, legs, arms and fingers?

In almost all cases, during precise work at the computer--like the imaginary threading of the needle--we stare, hold our breath, raise our shoulders, tense and immobilize our body.

Each time you catch yourself holding your breath, remind yourself to breathe. Practice exhaling by making a soft Haaaaaaaaa. sound as you exhale. Or, imagine as you exhale that you are gently blowing at a babys eyelids. Perform you mouse movements during exhalation.

Use every mouse click as a reminder to breathe and relax your neck and shoulders.

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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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