I was tempted to leave it at that – just one word of advice in this latest in my series on computer posture!
As you may have realized by now, there’s much more to posture than there might seem, especially if we are looking for something dynamic and open, that allows for flow and movement – the kind of posture that engenders productivity and creativity, confidence and well-being.
Scrunching, hunching, tightening and compressing lead to the opposite – creativity is stifled, productivity goes down, confidence can plummet and well-being is, well, not so well. We feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious or in pain.
Scrunching, hunching, tightening and compressing are also connected with restricting and holding our breath, so allowing the breath to flow naturally has a positive effect on our entire being, including our posture and our mood.
Simply, if we can remind ourselves to breathe as we work at our computers we’ll be a lot better off!
Unfortunately, I find that most people end up holding their breath a lot while working at the computer – often completely subconsciously, and I’m certainly no stranger to this trap. We become so narrowly focused on the screen in front of us that we forget we inhabit a body that needs to be look after too, and our breath is totally part of that.
In the past I’ve written about why our posture is important to our breath, and why it’s useful to have a fairly accurate basic understanding of breathing, in particular of the way the ribs move with our breath, and that we don’t need to “take a breath!” I encourage you to read those past posts – the information is completely relevant to how you sit at your computer.
When do you hold your breath?
Here, though, I want to consider the times when we are more likely to hold our breath or restrict our breathing as we work so we can start to change that. I think we’re likely to hold our breath when:
- we are concentrating hard on getting a piece of work done
- we’re waiting for a page or post to load
- the technology is not working the way it should…
- we’re anxious about an email we’ve received
- we’re writing an email we’re anxious about
- we have a tight deadline
- we are in a hurry
- we have lots of things calling on our attention at once
- we generally feel stressed
Can you think of more?
So, now you’ve noticed, what do you do?
Don’t Take a Deep Breath. Exhale!
When you do notice that you’re holding your breath, don’t try and take a deep breath, as is so commonly advised. You need to get rid of the air you’re holding in first! Instead, allow yourself to exhale on a gentle sigh – ahhh… 🙂 Then simply observe the in-breath that will naturally follow.
Getting in touch with the breath helps you be present to yourself. Pay attention to your breath as much as possible while you work, with a gentle focus on the exhale. It’s all about improving awareness of what we’re doing right here, right now, in this moment.
Holding the breath affects your whole being. Part of achieving healthy, upright poise while you’re at the computer is learning to pay attention to your whole self – mind, body and breath.
Have you ever noticed yourself holding your breath while you at the computer? Did you try working with your exhale? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.