The good and the bad of holding your breath while you work.

“Up to 80 percent of people unconsciously hold their breath, or breathe shallowly, when responding to email or texting.” – Linda Stone, researcher, and former executive at Apple and Microsoft.

Commonly referred to as “Email Apnea”, it is common for hard working people to undergo periods of shallow or limited breathing during screen time, stress, and sedentary behaviour. 

The Tale of Two Breath Holds

“Holding one’s breath contributes to stress-related diseases and disturbs the body’s balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitric oxide, which help keep the immune system strong, fight infection, and mediate inflammation. It can affect our well-being and our ability to work effectively.” – Dr. Margaret Chesney and Dr. David Anderson at National Institute of Health (NIH)”

Also true:

Research is suggesting that intermittent exposure to increased levels of CO2 (either by direct inhalation under controlled setting, or through conscious breath holds) is a way to recalibrate the sensitivity to CO2; therefore reducing stress and increasing the tolerance of CO2 build up in the blood.

Some preliminary animal studies also show that holding your breath may help to regenerate damaged brain tissue. 

• Using certain breathing techniques, some of which include holding your breath, may lower inflammation.
• Some breathing exercises that involve holding your breath for several seconds can be part of regular relaxation practice. It may also help you to improve the health of your cardiovascular system.

What’s the difference?

The latest research into the effects of breathing on our nervous system point to there being a notable difference between unconscious and conscious breathing. 

Therein, if you are stressed and your breathing is running behind the scenes, unconsciously trying to keep up, you may very well remain in a state of stress. 

On the flip side, if you are to consciously breath, or even hold your breath for short periods, you can trigger a cascade of effects on cognition, mood, cardiovascular health, and more. 

In short, you gotta know when to hold it 🫁🎵….

Just Breathe… most of the time,
Tim Kessler
Workday Performance Coach, Founder
inHabit Wellness
The Workovery Method™

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