Don’t Hold Your Breath
The vast majority of people breathe irregularly when checking email – four out of five to be exact. In a recent study conducted by Linda Stone, a former Apple executive, she discovered a newly recognised health condition known as ‘email apnea.’1
While a minor disruption in breathing throughout the day may not seem like cause for concern, email apnea can cause a ripple effect with long-lasting health consequences.
UNCHECKED STRESS DISRUPTS BREATHING
Picture this – you’re in the middle of composing an important email to your boss that must be sent before the end of the day. With this type of taxing communication, you may find that you automatically hold your breath, without even realising it.
You may be familiar with the term apnea (suspension of breathing) in reference to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs in a number of overweight adults as they stop breathing in deep sleep. Over the long term, sleep apnea can lead to multiple symptoms that arise from sleep deprivation – poor concentration, low libido, headaches, depression, anxiety and fatigue are examples.
Apnea that occurs while awake, like ’email apnea’ has its own harmful effect on the body. When you stop breathing even momentarily, it deprives your body of oxygen. It also naturally activates your sympathetic nervous system to ring alarm bells throughout the body in the fight- or-flight response. Common symptoms experienced with email apnea correlate with high stress levels – pupil dilation, flushing, sweating and restless legs.2
This detrimental pattern is hard to recognise and difficult to break. Continuous, unregulated fight-or-flight responses may keep the body in a constant state of panic and trigger long-term health issues, like high blood pressure.
EMAIL ISN’T THE PROBLEM
Before you decide to give up technology altogether, consider this alternative. It isn’t the interaction with email and similar technologies like texting that is at the root of the problem. It is how you approach email that could be triggering your constant stress response.
Deep, relaxed breathing is paramount to longevity. The breath is the essence of life and is responsible for circulating fresh oxygen to all parts of the body. Yet many people are unfamiliar with what relaxed breathing looks and feels like – especially after experiencing email apnea day after day.
Experts recommend stepping away from emails in the office periodically to take a deep breath and centre your health. Try these relaxed breathing techniques to activate your diaphragm the next time email apnea creeps up on you:
- Breathe in and out from the belly.
- With each breath, hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth and breathe through your nose.
- Place a finger on your belly button and watch the belly expand with each inhale. • Hold each inhale for the count of four and exhale to the count of seven.
- Repeat this exercise one to four times with each email break.
1. Is your email making you sick? www.inc.com
2. Four out of five people stop breathing correctly when typing an email. www. naturalnews.com