Healthy Computing: Relax and Breathe

Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with
Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay
healthier while working.

When performing accurate cursor movements with the mouse, do you find
yourself holding your breath and freezing in place? Most of us stabilize
our bodies and hold our breath when we perform precise work. Therefore,
avoid fatigue when you RELAX AND BREATHE.


Begin by becoming aware of automatic breath holding patterns when
performing precise tasks. Do the following:

Sit comfortably. Now, imagine that as you put on your shirt, the middle
button falls off and that you must quickly sew it on. Get a needle with
a very small eye. Hold this in between the thumb and index finger of your
left hand. Take a white thread with your right hand and hold the thread
between your right thumb and index finger. Bring the tip of the thread
to your lips. Wet the thread to make it into a point and then thread the
thread through the eye of the needle.

Now act out this threading of the needle. Really hold this imaginary
needle in front of you, bring the tip of the thread to the eye of the
needle. Literally see yourself threading the needle.

As you are focused and involved in this task, what is happening to your
shoulders, the blinking of your eyes, the location and frequency of your
breath, the muscle tension in your back, legs, arms and fingers?

In almost all cases, during precise work at the computer–like the
imaginary threading of the needle–we stare, hold our breath, raise our
shoulders, tense and immobilize our body.

Each time you catch yourself holding your breath, remind yourself to
breathe. Practice exhaling by making a soft Haaaaaaaaa. sound as you
exhale. Or, imagine as you exhale that you are gently blowing at a babys
eyelids. Perform you mouse movements during exhalation.

Use every mouse click as a reminder to breathe and relax your neck and

Avatar Written by Erik Peper PhD

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