Reduce Stress at the Computer with the Power of Thought!
A while ago I did a series of blog posts giving tips on how to use our bodies in a more efficient, less stressful, way as we work at the computer. I looked at many important factors, including awareness, balance, using the mouse and the way we set up our work station. I now realize I missed out a very important piece of the puzzle – how, and what we THINK as we sit at our computer.
The Alexander Technique recognizes that our mind and our body are inextricably linked. Our thoughts, therefore, are incredibly important, and the Alexander Technique teaches us to use them as a way to direct and enhance our movement, coordination, and indeed our state of being.
While working at the computer, I find it useful to take frequent, mindful “micro-pauses” to THINK – to give myself a mental message that will encourage stress reduction, freedom of movement, clarity of thought, release of tension, and more.
Here are some examples of the type of the directions, or “thoughts,” I find useful to give myself intermittently as I work:
- My neck is free
- I am free to sit
- I am free to sit on my sit bones
- My feet are free
- My feet are free to rest on the floor
- My legs are free
- My hip joints are free
- I am free to type
- I am free to click the mouse
- My hand is free to rest
- I am free to breathe
- My breathing is free
- My ribs are free to move with my breath
- My back is free
- My back is wide and open
- My chest is open and spacious
- My hands are free
- My fingers are free
- My elbows are free
- I am free to work at my computer
- I am free!
The list is endless. I just choose one, or possibly two, in any given moment that I feel drawn to or think will be helpful.
You may have noticed that all of these examples are stated as a fact – in the present, here and now. And the vast majority use the word “free.” I’ve recently expanded my understanding and use of this word, thanks to the work of Jennifer Roig-Francoli, to include an element of free will. “I am free to sit – any way I want – or not at all….” We are using these “freedom directions” – these thoughts – as a way to affirm a possibility to ourselves. The implication is that I am free to do “it” any way I want, that I am free not to do it in my habitual way, and I am free not do it at all, for instance. I can even do something else if I choose! This turns out to be very, well, freeing, both physically and mentally. And of course the word “free” has great associations for freeing oneself of tension and freedom of movement which is helpful too.
Once you get the idea of how to use these “freedom directions” it’s easy to come up with your own, that are specifically useful to your situation. Especially if we are in that “get-it-done” mode, thinking in this way can be exceptionally helpful.
If you’d like to find our more about this way of thinking, this is an interview I did for the Body Learning Podcast:
And so, returning to the words of William James quoted at the beginning of this post, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
Are you aware of what your thoughts as you work at the computer – of the, often subconscious, mental messages you are sending yourself? I’d love to hear if you have ways of thinking that you find helpful. Or have you noticed times when your thoughts get you in trouble? And if you try out some of these “freedom directions” I’d love to hear what you notice. As always, please leave your comments in the box below.
Excellent post!!! I needed to read this. Thanks
Glad you found it helpful, Susan 🙂
I love the Alexander Technique…. and the idea of thinking of the word “free” is quite exciting while sitting at the computer. Personally my preference is to sit on a balance ball. Thanks for the liberating mantras!
Yay – liberating is definitely the right word!
Terrific post! I am definitely sharing it. Or rather, I am free to share it widely. 🙂
Thanks so much, Amy. I have found these “freedom directions” so useful.
Great information in this post, and I loved the way you put the audio within this post. Lovely British accent BtW. J x
Yes, I’m a Brit living in Delaware, USA! Glad you like the post, and the audio, Julie.
sits up starighter as I type this :-). Great tips to support better posture etc for those of us who sit alot at our laptops and computers. Thanks so much.
*LOVE* this and implementing immediately and I loved your graphic!
I’m feeling FREE, Imogene! Thanks. I felt myself straightening up as I read you post. ‘Free’ is the core of what we are.