A few years ago, Linda Stone, a high-tech exec-turned-adviser and consultant, noticed that she was holding her breath whenever she sat down at her computer. She observed more than 200 people using computers and smartphones and found that the vast majority of them were doing the same thing—forgetting to inhale (or taking shallow breaths) after logging on. Stone, who calls this phenomenon "screen apnea," says it can trigger the body's fight-or-flight response, increase anxiety, interfere with digestion and, when doing it day after day (while never really making a dent in those 3,000-plus emails), compromise your overall health and immunity. You can see the value of a technique to stay calm and clear-headed as you file and delete. Stone personally had success with Buteyko, a form of diaphragmatic breathing—which is what Anne Marie Albano, PhD, director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, says is one of the best and most effective stress-management techniques. There are many different types of breathing techniques, but the vast majority of us will benefit from making sure that we simply exhale for twice as long as we inhale. Stone regularly pauses to ask herself if she's breathing, and then she takes a break to inhale, exhale and stretch.
*The actual number of unread emails in this writer's Gmail inbox.