Dealing with computer stress

2010-10-07
THE PUNCH Newspaper

Computers are gradually taking over our lives. From personal communication to shopping and banking, there is hardly anything done these days without a computer. Even books, in the printed form, are disappearing, giving way to e-books. In some parts of the world, robots are been manufactured by the day and are programmed, via computer, to do even the most basics of domestic chores hitherto handles by human beings. In fact, the world has gone computer crazy.

For a lot of people, a bad day begins when they switch on their computer in the morning and it fails to boot or perhaps responds slowly.

For instance, Ms Eileen You, in an article on computer stress published on www.zdnetasia.com, acknowledged, “I know when I‘m going to have a bad day when I switch on my computer first thing in the morning and find it exceptionally slow in responding. “When the computer slows down to a crawl (30 seconds to open/close one e-mail message or Web page), I feel my stress level rise. My heart pounds faster and I feel my back muscles between the shoulder blades tighten.”

Small wonder a year 2000 research by ICL found that some people were taking problems with their computers far too seriously.

The research found that while almost no one cared about viruses, one in ten people thought that a problem with a computer was worse than missing a holiday flight. Worse, eight out of ten found a computer failure more stressful than being left by their partners.

The research also found that one in four of same group of respondents admitted they waste between 30 minutes and an hour a day due to slow and unreliable technology, but only 60 per cent thought that waiting ages for tech support is bad for their productivity.

And the other 40 per cent are just grateful for the break or have gone into mourning at the sight of the blue screen of death.

Thus, on a daily basis, people experience computer stress. As Elizabeth Scott puts it in the article, Protection from computer stress, published in www.about.com, chances are that anyone who uses computer has ”experienced a fair amount of computer stress, from minor frustrations here and there to a virtual visit to computer hell.”

According to her, “As our lifestyles become increasingly dependent on technology-with growing popularity of online banking, telecommuting, and personal websites, and everyone from the very young to the very old using email - it’s inevitable that things will go wrong.”

This fact, she observed, was confirmed by a 2007 study (commissioned by SupportSoft and conducted by Kelton Research) which found that 65 per cent of American consumers were spending more time with their personal computer than with their spouse, and the typical user had computer problems, on average, once every four months, and wasted around 12 hours each month trying to fix cyber mishaps.

Computer stress can occur in many ways. If it is a function of frustrations over computer malfunction or other technical issues, then the best thing to do for relief it is to seek convenient technical help. According to an anonymous article on relieving computer stress published on www.stress-freelife.com, you should seek such help from a technically gifted friend or a good technician.

It warned that it could be challenging reaching a technical support representative, noting that this could even lead to more stress. However, it advised that the best thing to do in such situation would be to calmly explain to the representative the exact problem and that would help immensely in getting computer stress relief.

Again, the article noted that eyestrain, migraine, back pain, neck and shoulder strain can give you computer stress due to sitting for long periods in front of the computer and poor posture. Computer stress relief, in this case, it advised, would mean relaxing these parts of the body.

Eyestrain, according to the article, is the number one computer-related health complaint. To relieve eyestrain, take your eyes off the computer screen and focus them on a different object. Do this every 20 minutes when working on the computer. Sometimes, simply leaning back and closing your eyes for five minutes is enough to give your eyes the much-needed break.

An optometrist, Dr. Kelechukwu Ahaiwe, observed that regular computer users usually complained of eye strain and fatigue as well as blurred vision.

While linking complains of body fatigue to posturing during use of computers, Ahaiwe who is the Chief Optometrist at Mercy Hospital, Abak, Akwa Ibom State, advised that the brightness and contrast of the computer screen should be adjusted to be the same as that of the work environment.

He adds that the eyes should be exercised by looking away from the screen after every 20minutes by gazing at a distant object outside or down the hallway to relax the focusing muscles in the eye.

Sometimes, changes in the surroundings are necessary for computer stress relief. It is highly recommended to use ergonomic PC chairs and tables, which are intended to follow the natural position of the human body so as to prevent strains. Additionally, using seat cushions also offers computer stress relief. To feel relieved in just a few minutes, try any of the methods above and save your sanity.

 

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