Yoga Page Three
A YOGA MODULE FOR ‘TECHNOSTRESS’ IN COMPUTER USERS
|Written by: Manoj Dash|
|INTRODUCTION The work environment has changed drastically, today. Work has become more specialized with the pace being
determined by the office machinery (especially computers), rather than by persons. In addition long periods of sitting, repetitive
activities (e.g., entering information using the keyboard), and either monotonous or intensely focusing work adds to the physical
and mental strain of the large number of persons who use computers at their work place or at home, nowadays (1-2). This physical
and mental strain manifests as musculoskeletal, emotional, and visual problems. Especially, an increasing number of work-
related neck and shoulder disorders have been attributed to constrained work postures and repetitive work tasks (3-4). One
of the most common complaints associated with work at a computer (i.e.) a Visual Display Terminal, (VDT) is ‘eyestrain’
(5). The ‘eyestrain’ may take the form of ‘tired’ eyes , irritation , burning sensations redness ,
blurred vision, and double vision (6). It is generally understood that these problems are temporary (7) and are unlikely to
cause permanent damage or even short sight (i.e., myopia). However, these visual problems cause inconvenience to the individual,
reduce work efficiency and increase physical fatigue and mental stress. In addition to the visual, musculoskeletal and mental
/emotional problems described above, prolonged and continued use of computers has been associated with other , diverse problems
(e.g., causing or aggravating skin disease, such as seborrhoeic eczema and rosacea (8-10). VISUAL PROBLEMS As described above
(5), eye problems, are the single most common complaint in those who use computer terminals for long, uninterrupted periods.
There are three possible factors responsible for this high prevalence of visual complaints : • The nature of VDT displays,
• The work station design , and • The way that the VDTs are used, or the working practices In many cases the eye
problems reported by VDT users are a natural consequence of the way the eyes have been used. Working at a VDT involves sustained
accommodation and vergence and most tasks involve a high degree of cognitive effort. Poor work station design, inadequate
provision for breaks and a stressful environment, often compound the problem and lead to complaints by individuals who are
normally asymptomatic. Like wise, small refractive errors and oculomotor problems may only cause symptoms under the demanding
conditions of sustained VDT use. It was found that visual exercise routines which include blinking and focusing the eyes on
distant objects, may be helpful . An integrated approach of yoga therapy (IAYT), which includes yoga eye cleansing practices,
yoga postures, voluntary regulated breathing, meditation, and lectures on philosophy of yoga, were shown to be beneficial
in persons with high degrees of refractory errors, such as myopia or hypermetropia (11). Hence the present project aims at
trying to use yoga based visual exercises to reduce signs of ‘visual strain’ in computer users. MUSCULOSKELETAL
PAIN There is an increase in work-related musculoskeletal problems, especially neck and shoulder pain (1-2). Long periods
of sitting are believed to be related to the development of musculoskeletal pain. Some studies have found that sitting more
than about five hours at a VD unit keyboard increases the chance of suffering cervicobrachial pain. This has resulted in a
good deal of effort being focused on the ergonomic design of offices. Also, more attention is currently being paid to psychosocial
factors that also may be related to neck and shoulder pain. Relatively high stress levels have been found in clerical VD unit
operators who constitute a large number of persons . Their most common stressors are work load, pace , lack of control over
work activities , monotony , and job dissatisfaction, and these produce physiologic stress reactions. These psychological
work factors consequently may be important in the development of musculoskeletal pain problems. A yoga based intervention,
consisting of yoga postures and relaxation, practiced twice weekly for eight weeks, brought about improvement in patients
with carpal tunnel syndrome, as compared with a control group of patients who were given conventional treatment, including
a wrist splint (12). Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common complication of repetitive activities and causes significant morbidity.
Persons who use VDU keyboards continuously, for long periods may be considered especially vulnerable. Hence the project aims
at introducing certain yoga practices and relaxation to reduce musculoskeletal symptoms in persons who use VDU for long periods.
MENTAL STRESS Computer technology places new demands on people. Some persons may experience difficulties in dealing with these
demands and may experience stress. This type of stress has been called “Technostress”. Technostress is a modern
disease of adaptation caused by on inability to cope with new computer technologies in a healthy manner. This “technostress”
would be further aggravated by rapid pace of work required, deadlines, and general work pressure. Yoga practice has been shown
to reduce physiological signs of mental stress, both in normal persons (13) and in those with abnormally high levels of stress,
due to either physical reasons (14) or social causes (15). Hence the present study also aims at using the practice of yoga
to reduce physiological signs of mental stress in computer professionals, who are subjected to high levels of mental strain.
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work. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 5:159-181. 3. Hagberg M, Wegman DH. (1987). Prevalence rates and odds ratios of shoulder-neck
diseases in different occupational groups. British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 44: 602-610, 4. Sondergard Kristensen T.
(1980). Musculoskeletal pain and the work environment (Translated in English), Nordic Medicine, 95: 243-245, 5. Collins MJ,
Brown B, Bowman KJ.(1988). Visual discomfort and VDTs. Report for National Occupational Health and safety commission (Australia).
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and Visual Sciences, 73:512-528. 7. Yeow PT, Taylor SP.(1991). Effects of long–term display terminal usage on visual
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In: Menne T, Maibach, HI (eds.). Exogenous dermatoses: Environmental Dermatitis. Boca Raton: CRC Press Inc., pp. 327-328.
9. Berg M.(1988), Skin problems in workers using visual display terminals . A study of 201 patients. Contact Dermatitis,19,
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Scandinavian Journal of Work and Environmental Health, 11:489-493. 11. Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR. (1988). An integrated approach
of yoga therapy for ophthalmic disorders: A report. Bangalore: Vivekananda Prakashan 12 Garfinkel MS, Singhal A, Katz WA,
Allan DA, Reshetar R, Schumacher HR.(1998). Yoga based intervention for carpal tunnel syndrome. The Journal of the American
Medical Association, 280:1601-1603. 13. Telles S, Nagarathna R., Nagendra HR, Desiraju T. (1993). Physiological changes in
sports teachers following 3 months of training in yoga. Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, 47(10): 235-238. 14. Telles S,
Srinivas RB. (1999). Autonomic and respiratory measures in children with impaired vision following yoga and physical activity
programs. International Journal of Rehabilitation and Health. 15. Raghuraj P, Telles S. (1997). Muscle power, dexterity skill
and visual perception in community home girls trained in yoga or sports and in regular school girls. Indian Journal of Physiology
and Pharmacology, 41(4): 409-415. RELEVANCE OF THE PROJECT It is important nowadays to realize that even in an industry like
Information Technology (IT), there are several computer – related occupational hazards. In India the computer population
is around 30 million, and is ever increasing. 80 percent of these 30 million computer users have some degree of computer-related
health problems (which may be musculoskeletal / visual / mental stress-related), present at some time, if not continuously.
Hence computer related health problems are a very important and significant cause of morbidity and work absences, today. |