Do you suffer neck, back or shoulder pain from too much computer work or texting?

Don’t blame it on the technology!

Your devices allow you to do amazing things! You just might need to get a bit smarter about how you are interacting with them.

laptop computer

Take a moment as you read this to notice the physical space between you and the device you are reading from (computer, tablet, smartphone).

How close is your head to your screen? And how is your head relative to the rest of your body? Is it jutting out forward of your spine? What about the rest of your body? Has your body followed the trajectory of your head? Are you literally curled over your device?

As you pay attention to things you tend to physically get closer to them.

It is as if there is a magnetic attraction between your eyes and the object of your attention.

In some cases, it may be that you cannot see clearly in which case you need to go see the eye doctor.

In most cases, however, the tendency to get physically closer is just a habit we have developed.

If you have two simple magnets handy it might be useful to go get them right now.

Hold the magnets with the opposite poles facing each other so that they attract each other. You can feel the force that draws the magnets closer together.

This is what usually happens between you and the object of your attention. The more you concentrate, the narrower your focus becomes and the stronger the attraction.

Now flip one of the magnets over so that the same poles are facing each other and they repel each other. You can feel the force that gently pushes the magnets apart—creating space between them.

You can apply this experience of the magnets repelling each other to yourself and your device.

  • Start by periodically paying attention to the space between you and your device.
  • Remember the magnets. Recall them repelling each other a bit.
  • Allow you and your device to repel each other a bit.
  • Let yourself come back and up away from your device.
  • And create some space.

As I sit here writing this blog post I happen to be sitting in a large firm overstuffed chair in my parents living room. The computer is on my lap. I have a big pillow behind me supporting my entire back and I am using it as a reminder that I can stay gently back and up against it and still allow my attention to be forward on the computer screen.

I am focused. But not with all of my attention pulling me forward. I have a bit of my attention on the pillow behind me. That allows me to stay focused on the computer but with space between me and my device. I can stay back and up and work from there.

So, practice creating some space for yourself and see what happens.

Image of computer courtesy of scottchan at

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