Image: Ergonomic Safety Program Logo

Healthy Computing Tip # 439: Breathe

Did you know that, generally, the moment we begin keyboarding or mousing, our breathing rate increases by 30 to 50% and becomes shallower?  This physiological pattern is even more pronounced when boys play computer games; their breathing rate increases from 15 to 25 breaths per minute. This rapid breathing may contributes to cold hands, increased neck and shoulder tension and general fatigue. Learn  to regenerate and work with less effort when you breathe.

How to Breathe: 

Begin by observing your breathing rhythm and movement as you sit quietly and while you work. Sense whether you have more movement in your chest or in your abdomen. Most adults tend to breathe faster and higher in their chest as they work at the computer, which can lead to gasping, sighing, tiredness and shoulder/neck tension. 

Slow your breathing rate and lower the location of the movement by imagining that your lungs are like a balloon located in your abdomen.

When you inhale, allow the balloon to expand and, when you exhale, allow it to contract.  As you practice this breathing remember to:

  • Loosen your belt so that your abdomen can expand
  • Exhale very quietly while smiling slightly
  • Whisper, "Haaaah" very softly as you exhale
  • Allow the exhalation time to be nearly twice as long as the inhalation time
  • Focus on exhalation and forget about inhalation
  • Imagine exhaling the air down and through your arms, wrist and hands and out your fingers
 

Practice this slower breathing many times at the computer. Observe yourself while working: purposely exhale slower and feel your abdomen expand as you inhale.

OPTIONAL: Breathe and regenerate

 

At home, practice breathing while reclining.  Lie on your back with a pillow under your knees and relax with your feet shoulder width apart; let your hands rest palms up about 6 to 12 inches from your sides. Place a 3 to 5 pound weight on your stomach (a bag of rice or beans works well) and then, as you inhale, push the weight up and away from you as your abdomen expands.  During exhalation allow the weight to push your abdomen downward as the air flows out. As you continue to breathe allow the exhalation to go slower and slower and gently focus your attention to the sensations of movement in your abdomen. If your attention drifts, bring it back to focus on your breathing. Continue this for 20 minutes.

 

The Institute for Holistic Healing Studies and Human Resources sponsor the distribution of Healthy Computing Email Tips. Copyright 2009 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.
SF State Home