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Healthy Computing Tip # 440: Stress Immobilization Syndrome

Many employees experience discomfort from working at the computer. This discomfort is commonly referred to as repetitive strain injury. However, repetitive motion is only one of many components that may contribute to discomfort. A more significant factor is the lack of movement. We are dynamic beings, requiring movement to "oil" our muscles and joints. Stop the debilitating effects of inactivity and learn skills to avoid Stress Immobilization Syndrome.

How to Avoid Stress Immobilization Syndrome:

Maintain your health by frequently changing activities and performing movements. Do some of the following:

  • Every hour take a 5-minute break (studies at the Internal Revenue Service show that employees report significant reduction in symptoms without loss in productivity when they take a 5 minute break each hour). 
  • Leave your computer station for the 15-minute mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks
  • Eat lunch away from your computer workstation
  • Take a short walk or do other movements instead of snacking when feeling tense or tired
  • Have walking meetings or walk during part of your meetings
  • Drink lots of water (then, you'll have to walk to the restroom)
  • Take a 1-2 second micro-break every 30 to 60 seconds; drop your hands to your lap as you exhale
  • Perform a stretch, strengthening, relaxation, or mobilization movement every 30 minutes
  • Change work tasks frequently during the day
  • Move your printer to another room so that you have to walk to retrieve your documents
  • Stand up when talking on the phone or when a co-worker stops by to speak with you
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.
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