Death to Email

If you have an inbox (since you’re reading this, we’re going to assume that’s 100% of you), you likely have experienced email apnea — a physiological response to digital communication that affects your breathing. Here’s how to increase the inbox peace. (Whispered, in a spoiler alert voice: it’s mindfulness).

What is mindfulness, again?

Quick refresher on mindfulness. It’s the practice of paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment. You can practice it while sitting on a pillow in a white room, or you can put down your phone and be truly 100% present for season 5 of Arrested Development.

How your inbox affects your body

So, the term email apnea was coined by Linda Stone in 2008 to describe the temporary cessation of breath that occurs in 80% of people while working or playing in front of screens.

What it looks like:

  1. You open your inbox or check your phone

  2. You experience a physiological response like shallow breathing

  3. This affects the sympathetic nervous system

  4. Ultimately, this constant state of fight or flight leads to an increase in stress-related diseases

What about the 20%?

The group of people Stone observed who were super chill regardless of whether they were jumping into their inbox or not included high performance athletes, dancers, musicians, and a test pilot. They already had coping mechanisms to manage energy and emotions.

How to stay calm & carry on

  • Cultivate awareness. The next time you’re scrolling, notice what your breathing is doing. Are you aware of your whole body? Are you breathing fully and completely?

  • Move. Take a break, move your body, and make sure you do this at least once an hour if you’re sitting or standing for long periods.

  • Dance or sing. Channel your inner Freddie, turn up the volume, and go for it.

One more mindful tip: Start a daily mindfulness habit with Calm.

FOR THE NERDY: Email apnea, from the phrase originator.