The not-so-subtle art of taking a deep breath

Live-wiring yourself for better output and experience

This talk is given as a keynote at the International Conference on Software Architecture (ICSA 2021) on March 24th.
Below you find Abstract, Slides, References, and Video recording.

Abstract: Busyness and lack of sleep seem to be a badge of honour in a large part of our society, yet they don’t lead to long-lasting satisfaction with achievements or even to a sustainable pace of life but instead to burnout or at least creeping exhaustion and loss of quality of life.
This is true for software engineers as much as for many other professions, but as software engineers we carry the responsibility for the systems we develop – and those happen to run the world. As designers, we also unconsciously embed our values into the systems we develop.
Therefore, let me walk you through how your body and brain work under the influence of certain neurochemicals and how we can live-wire ourselves using simple exercises for improving our relaxation response, resilience, and restoration.
As a side effect, my studies find that these exercises lead to higher perceived well-being and more joy. Caution: You might walk away from this keynote with a smile on your face.

Bio: Birgit Penzenstadler is faculty at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and Lappeenranta Lahti University of Technology, Finland. 
Her research focus is how neuroplasticity practices can support engineers and other computer workers in improving their presence, creativity, cognitive abilities, immune systems, sleep and overall resilience (for details, see
She has been researching the relation between sustainability and software engineering for a decade and focuses on artifact-based requirements engineering and requirements engineering for sustainability. Her expertise includes requirements elicitation, analysis, design and documentation techniques, for example sustainability goal modeling, as well as artifact models, quality modeling, tool support, and process improvement (see and

Slides are here for you as PDF.


And here is the recording of the “dress rehearsal” 🙂