I decided to start my series on computer posture by focusing on awareness, because without it, how do you even know what you are actually doing? How can you make an effective change, if you don’t know your starting point?
As I often tell my clients, awareness is the first step toward change.
And here’s a little secret about awareness: Often simply the act of being aware creates a change for the better.
Building awareness is where we start, but will also be an underlying theme and principle throughout this series in one way or another.
Awareness covers an awful lot.
It includes awareness of self – our mind, our thoughts, our body, our breath, and our emotions.
It includes awareness of where we are in space and how we relate to the world around us – our surroundings, our equipment, our workstation, our location, and other people, even our pets.
All have a role to play and our awareness of them contributes significantly to the effectiveness and comfort we feel in our computer posture.
Computer posture is a subject dear to my heart. I spend a LOT of time working at the computer. I not only use the computer for business and marketing (and writing my blog posts), I also design websites. Really, apart from working with clients in person and attending local meetings, almost all my work involves a computer or a phone!
Luckily for me I have a huge advantage. My background as an Alexander Technique teacher has given me the ability to work at the computer more mindfully, productively, with healthier posture and less tension. I can be upright, yet relaxed. When this is going well, my posture is not fixed or rigid. It allows for movement, flow and breath.
HOW you sit matters. How you bring your whole self to this simple activity can set the tone for your whole day – dare I say your whole life even!
In this series I aim to convey some of the lessons I teach my clients to help your experience at the computer be more comfortable and productive. I’ll share insights to help you be more open and expansive as you work, enhancing creative thinking and confidence – in yourself and as perceived by others (read my last blog, Could the WAY You Sit at Your Computer Affect Your Next Sale? for more on this).
In today’s lesson you are going to begin cultivating a broader awareness while you sit and work at your computer. We are usually so immersed in our work (or game, or video, or Facebook…) that we forget about our body (until it starts to hurt, perhaps) and the space around us. We are totally sucked into the world on the screen in front of us.
At the end of my last post I invited you bring your attention to the space between you and your device – your computer screen, your tablet, or your phone.
Try it now.
Did you notice a difference?
This can be a simple way to mitigate the pull the screen in front of us has on us – emotionally and physically.
Next broaden your awareness to include the room around you. Look around and be aware of the rest of the room – of what’s behind you and to either side of you, above you and below, and of what’s beyond the computer in front of you. If there’s a window, look out!
Now bring your attention back to the computer screen. Sense yourself at the center of that space looking at your screen. Can you look at it and sense that space around you?
As you read these words, can you also have an awareness of the edges of the screen and what’s to either side of it?
As you do so, do you notice any changes in you physically or mentally?
Bringing yourself to this type of spatial awareness intermittently while you work is enlivening to both our psyche and our posture, and can also boost our creativity and outside-the-box problem-solving.
Remembering is another matter, especially when the pull of the screen is so strong.
One way to help yourself is to set a gentle reminder or alert to go off every so often. When you hear the chime, use it to bring your awareness to the space around you and your computer, looking around for a moment, before bringing your eyes back to the screen, aiming to include, if only for a few seconds, an awareness of the space around the screen as you return to your work.
This is an interesting exercise in itself. How willing are you, for just a few seconds, to tear yourself away from the screen? Do you just ignore the chime and continue with your work? If you find this happening, find another way to remind yourself – maybe post a note at the edge of your screen, or perhaps decide that you’re going to bring your attention to the space around you each time you sit down to work, and again before you get up again. See if that works better. Experimentation is the name of the game.
The changes can be quite subtle, especially if you’re new to attending in this way.
I’d love to hear how you get on if you tried this simple exploration. Did you notice anything change? Was it difficult? What would be helpful to you?
I’m also curious to find out what are your biggest challenges when working at the computer?
Please let me know in the comments below.
Photograph © ocusfocus / 123RF Stock Photo