Do you stop breathing when you read your emails? You may be affected by “screen apnea”, a relatively little-known phenomenon caused by stress. How to become aware of it and remedy it? Linda Piazza, sophrologist, answers us.
It’s hard to believe that you can stop breathing when reading your emails. And yet: this frequent phenomenon has a name: screen apnea. It occurs when we hold our breath or change our breathing while performing certain tasks on screens. How to explain such a disorder? And what exercises should you practice to remedy this? Answers.
“Anxiety changes breathing”
Concretely, screen apnea is a response of our body to the stress caused by viewing a screen.
“Screen apnea is closely linked to feelings of anxiety. When our work is anxiety-provoking or we are under pressure, this will in fact unconsciously modify our breathing: either we will breathe much faster, or our breath will become blocked, in apnea. This “pause” will cause muscle tension, since there will be a tendency here to raise the shoulders and contract. Screen apnea is therefore not trivial: it affects our health and well-being at work.“, reveals Linda Piazza.
Moreover, if, occasionally, screen apnea is not problematic, when we spend the day glued to screens, it becomes: these paused breaths generate a state of fatigue.
Fortunately, to remedy this, there are some simple reflexes and actions to adopt:
“First of all, you need to become aware of your breathing by establishing a daily deep breathing routine. In other words, inhaling deeply through your nose, then exhaling deeply through your mouth. You must repeat this gesture several times during the day, while being aware, as often as possible, of your breathing. This is what will help you avoid unconscious apnea.“, underlines the sophrologist.
And when we are faced with a fait accompli?
“As soon as you realize that you are in apnea, you must take a breath, exhale and then do an exercise to reconnect with the present moment, to chase away anxiety-provoking thoughts. Two exercises are then useful: shoulder pumping, which combines movement, breathing and intention, and positive mentalization: when exhaling, we expel all stress and when inhaling, we are filled with calm and relief. Then, we start again with more normal breathing“, concludes the expert.
Another very concrete piece of advice: spend less time on screens. Your body will thank you!