Computer woes

I was recently given the opportunity to experience first hand the daily reality of many of my clients. I got to sit in front of my computer for several hours a day over a period of a few weeks, as part of a short term contract job I took on.

It's been years since I've worked in an office environment, and although I use my computer on a daily basis for personal needs (Facebook, email, catching up with blogs and such like - all the necessary stuff!), I don't use it for too many tasks that involve hours of concentration and dedicated effort. At least, not for days on end, anyway.

Within a day or two, I had become that person with that niggling pinch in the shoulder (you know the one, right on the edge of the shoulder blade), the exhausted, dry eyeballs popping out of the head feeling, the "I've got to lie down right now because I feel like I've been run over with a Mack truck" kind of experience. Anyone know what I'm talking about? As a bodyworker, and particularly as one still working with clients as my "main" job, I quickly realized this wasn't an acceptable way of operating. So, to my toolbox I sped and started figuring out how to make this a manageable, situation.

First up, Energy Medicine (the Donna Eden variety). I knew I had a whole stack of tools ready to employ in such situations. I also knew from experience (my clients' and my own), that Energy Medicine only works when you actually use it - consistently. That said, it was up to me to stay tuned in to my body and take appropriate measures to balance the energies as they started to shift into unwanted patterns. Easier said than done. Computers have a way of sucking you in, overriding good sense and eating up hours the same way an ├╝bersized bag of popcorn gets consumed at the movies. I started to find that an hour was really the absolute maximum time I could stay in front of the screen before things started to go south. Ideally, every 30 minutes was a good time to stop briefly and do something else. That something else preferably including some energy exercises. Here are the ones I found most beneficial:

Revitalize with Tapping
- tap the brain points (K27) just below the inner edges of the collar bone (deep breath)
- tap the thymus point, in the middle of the sternum (deep breath)
- and because computer monitors (and laptops) are really good at depleting Spleen energy,
tap the Spleen points, one rib below the breasts in line with the nipple, and also Sp21 on the side of the ribs in line with the nipple (deep breath)

Benefits: counteracts sleepiness and sluggishness; gets the meridians running forwards; stimulates the immune system; strengthens Spleen

Stand up. This on its own is a really good move. Sitting for extended periods tends to stop things moving: energy, digestion, breath...

Connect Heaven & Earth. This qigong movement stretches one arm up towards heaven, and the other down towards the earth. Both hands are pulled back flat. Stretch on the inbreath and hold the stretch and the breath, then breathe out, let go and stretch up/down the other side, bringing the hands back to a prayer position in front of the chest each time. Do several times each side, then fold over and let the arms hang down, emptying out into the ground. Figure 8 the body on the way back up.

Benefits: this feels truly wonderful when you really s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Not only are you creating space in the torso and limbs, but you're also encouraging the meridians (especially Spleen) to get moving again, thereby removing energies that have become stagnant and are starting to settle in the joints, to say nothing of turning on the Radiant Circuits.

Wrist & Shoulder Stretch
While still standing, interlink the fingers of both hands, turn palms away from the chest and stretch the arms out in front. Slowly raise the arms up above the head with an inbreath. Hold for a moment, then separate the hands and bring them slowly down to each side while blowing out slowly through the mouth, as if through a straw.

Benefits: stretches the wrists and forearms, and also opens up the area between the shoulder blades. Normalizes blood pressure.

Spinal Twist
Twist from side to side, letting the arms swing freely, wrapping around the body.

Benefits: encourages flexibility of the spine and back

Tapping to Let Go
Use knuckles or heels of the hands to firmly tap down the outside of the upper legs, from hip to knee.

Benefits: stimulates the Large Intestine neurolymphatic points and encourages letting go

This whole sequence takes no more than a couple of minutes. Amazing how much more refreshed I could feel when I sat down again.

(Fresh as a daisy, in case you were wondering)

With stagnant energies dispersed and some space created in the body, massage works so much better. Here are my favorite self massage techniques for counteracting computer fatigue:

Head Rub & Neck Stretch
Vigorously rub and scratch all over the head. Deeply massage along the base of the skull, just above the neck. Take small handfuls of hair and grasp at the roots. Give a slight tug so the scalp lifts away from the head.

Starting at the base of the skull, place the fingertips in the center, push in and with pressure, drag the fingers apart, stretching across the back of the neck. Continue all the way down the neck and across the tops of the shoulders.

Shoulder Shrug
Shrug the shoulders up to the ears with an inbreath. Hold the breath and tense the shoulders as much as possible. When ready to breathe out, let go and allow the shoulders to drop in a fast movement. Repeat the same procedure, but this time rolling the shoulders back before letting them drop.

Shoulder Tenderizer
Take a hairbrush and with a light bounce, tap all over the tops of the shoulders, avoiding the bones.

Wrist & Ankle Twists
Twist the wrists and then the ankles in circles, one direction and then the other. Stretch as much as possible with each twist.

And finally,

Face Contortions
I don't know about you, but when I'm concentrating on something for long periods, my face can get frozen into one expression. It's not a pretty one. To remind me there are other things my face can still do (such as smile), I open my mouth as wide as I can and make all sorts of silly faces, stretching as much as possible. It feels wonderful getting the circulation going and relaxes all the tiny facial muscles that work so hard to hold a single expression.

During this interesting experiment into office life, I found that if I overrode my body's signals and went for too long between breaks, it took more exercises and more time to loosen things up and get the energies moving again. So I learned that no matter how involved I was in something at the time, it was far better to stop for a minute or two, than do "just 5 more minutes", which usually ended up being 30 or more.

At the end of each day, I took a bath in epsom salts and baking soda, a refreshing pick me up that pulls out stagnant energies and toxins and buffs up the aura till it's shining like new.

Now when a client comes in with laptop shoulders and computer fatigue, I can share my tools with the added benefit of personal experience. I really do feel your pain!