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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
'Keep cool' over computer hassles
Stressed computer user
Stress can damage health and impact others
Computer users need to stem the stress their machines cause them before it damages health, according to a survey.

Nine out of 10 are regularly annoyed by slow, crashing machines, while time wasted fixing problems makes it worse, say security experts Symantec.

Information overload is the top irritant, and a quarter say computers are just not worth the hassle.

Anger management experts say stress has to be stopped before it affects productivity and those around us.

Irks

Computer viruses, spam and general information pollution annoy men most, with nearly a quarter saying it was a significant stress trigger.

But women say crashing systems and sluggish performance irks them about using computers.

"We shouldn't be put off using our computers as there are lots of ways we can avoid these kinds of problems," Symantec's Kevin Chapman said.

TOP FIVE STRESS TRIGGERS
1: Slow performance and system crashes
2: Spam, scams and too much e-mail
3: Pop-up ads
4: Viruses
5: Lost or deleted files

People should help themselves by taking time out to calm down before stress gets out of control, according to Mike Fisher from the British Association of Anger Management.

"Stress brought on by PC pests can all too easily turn to anger, which is not only unpleasant, but will impact on those around us and inhibit our productivity," he said.

"If you are suffering from stress, the best thing to do is to breathe deeply, and remind yourself to keep your cool," added Mr Fisher.

Taking regular breaks, especially when computers start to misbehave, can also help prevent annoyances putting people in bad moods.

More than a third of men and women will resort to extreme behaviour when confronted with computer frustration, such as violence, swearing, shouting and desperately slamming random buttons.

The knowledge

Encouragingly, 40% will try to find a practical solution to fix niggles, including asking someone else to help.

Spam e-mail
Spam cluttering inboxes is a major annoyance
Common sense knowledge about what we do with our computers and the potential consequences of our actions can help, according to Mr Chapman.

"For example, don't download lots of large files and applications, and remove the clutter left behind by long periods on the internet."

"To avoid spam, don't sign up to lots of mailing lists, and if you do receive a spam e-mail, never reply to it asking to be removed from the list as this will confirm your e-mail address," he said.

As people work longer hours and become increasingly reliant on computers and technology to communicate and do their work, minor irritants can soon snowball into larger problems.

A recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) survey of 700 managers said 1.24 billion a year was lost because of stress-related sickness and lost productivity.


SEE ALSO:
UK presses US in war on spam
15 Oct 03  |  Technology
Web guru fights info pollution
13 Oct 03  |  Technology
Junk e-mail 'stresses workers'
22 May 03  |  Technology
Odd mishaps cause computer grief
16 Oct 03  |  Technology


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