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February 2014
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TD Magazine

Word Wiz: Email Apnea

Office workers are susceptible to a long list of ailments due to their sedentary lifestyles. Here's another one to add to the list: email apnea. It is the tendency to hold one's breath or breathe shallowly while reading email or working in front of a screen.

According to Linda Stone, who coined the term in an article for the Huffington Post, 80 percent of us have it. Is shallow breathing so bad? Maybe you're not passing out in your chair, but yes, temporarily suspending your breath several times a day can have a host of implications for your health: increased stress, lower immunity, difficultly learning and remembering information, and digestive complications.

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One of the reasons we do it (besides the anticipation of seeing emails pour in) is that when we sit at a computer, we slump forward, making it difficult to draw deep breaths.

Fortunately the remedy for email apnea is simple and cheap: Remind yourself to sit up straight and breathe deeply, and whenever you can, walk away from blue rectangular screens.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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