Covid-19 has brought in forced locked down and remote working situations all over the world. It has also forced online learning classes for students of all ages. All this means all people, young and old, are spending more time with computers, mobile phones, tablets etc.
This too much sitting and watching screens for long hours brings certain occupational hazards. As a Mindful Leadership Coach, I have observed that, this occupational hazard impacts 3 key aspects – Body, Breath and Brain. In this blog we discuss these impacts and certain Mindful Practices to alleviate the negative effects. Each of them takes just about 3 minutes of practice and can be done during the short breaks in between the work/study while sitting at the workplace.
Intense focus on the screen with some fixed postures, starts leading to stiff neck, stiff shoulders, and spondylitis kind of symptoms. Neck is a high-traffic junction connecting the sense organs like eyes, ears, nose, tongue and the super processing-engine brain, with the rest of the body functions below. The food pipe, windpipe, blood vessels, spinal column with nerves, energy channels (called Naadis in Yogic Sciences) all pass through this junction. It’s very important to keep this junction unclogged for the whole perceive-process-perform system to work effectively.
If we observe with certain awareness, we can notice that we blink less when we get fixated on the screen and the eye lenses remain focused at the same distance for long time. This leads to dry eyes and eyesight issues, as the eye lenses & eye muscles loose flexibility to change focal length.
Below are a few tips to deal with these issues:
- Bend head forward with exhale & eye moving down; bend head backward with inhale & eye moving up – 3 times
- Left & Right turn with synchronized breathing – 3 times
- Hand stretch up with synchronized breathing – 3 times
- Rotate forward and backward – 3 times
- Rub palms and place them on eyes
- Massage eyebrows
- Blink, close eyes tight & relax, eyeball movements
- Look at for away objects
Please watch this video for guided practices, specifically from 6:15 minutes to 14:15 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz4XQwRFpXc
If you already have stiff neck or stiff shoulder or spondylitis kinds of symptoms, do not do the neck and shoulder exercises mentioned above and contact a physiotherapist.
If we pay attention, we can also observe that when we are focused on the screen, our breath becomes shallow and feeble. This leads to less oxygen intake and less expulsions of wastes like carbon dioxide. This can affect the thinking & concentration as brain is the single biggest consumer of resources among the body organs. Increased wastes in the body can impact the hormones which in turn affect the moods, emotions and thinking. Breath has a huge impact on body & mind. Improper breathing can affect the immune system which is especially so vital during the pandemic situations like this.
Below are two tips on breathing:
CO2 Breath (Bhastrika pranayama) : Forceful exhalation which expels carbon dioxide and other wastes from the blood.
O2 Breath (Ujjai pranayama) : Pressured inhale which increases the oxygen intake.
Please watch this video for guided practices, specifically from 15:00 minutes to 20:30 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz4XQwRFpXc
Leave at least 1 hour gap after food for doing these exercises.
It is known through medical research that mind has a huge impact on body – 80% to 90% diseases are psychosomatic – caused by mind. Negative emotions and stressful states of mind also reduce the immunity.
Several published researches on remote working by organizations like Microsoft and McKinsey show that remote working has increased the stress levels in people due to several factors like extended working hours, increased meetings online, all time ON systems, multitasking with office work, home activities, dealing with kids etc. We have observed similar feedback from many professionals we are coaching.
Breath Watch is a simple, but very powerful approach to destress quickly. There are several neuroscience researches which demonstrate the positive impact of it on brain, nervous system and endocrine systems.
Please follow the guided audio instructions here to practice Breath Watch: https://pm-powerconsulting.com/mindful-leadership/resources/breath-watch/
You can also download a free eBook on Mindfuless@Work here: https://pm-powerconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Mindfulness@Work-eBook.pdf
When and how frequently to do these exercises?
A good practice is to do all these exercises together, as a daily routine in the morning before breakfast, in that order of Body – Breath – Brain (Mind) (going from gross to subtle aspects). It might take about 10 minutes of time investment.
You can do any of them more frequently based on how you feel during the day. Doing Mindful Eyes once every 2 hours is useful – it takes less than a minute.
The more frequently you do Breath Watch, more impactful it is – it can be for just 20 seconds at a time. You can do it with open eyes as well – stealth operation – nobody will notice it. If you cultivate a practice of Breath Watch on a continuous way, you will be in the present moment (here & now) all the time with higher awareness, calmness, clarity and focus which are the basis for higher Emotional Intelligence and Leadership characteristics.
Don’t just read this blog and watch the video, but do practice these tips and let us know your experiences.