Ritika Bajaj


5 Creative Ways to Take Breaks from Your Computer Screen

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A few years ago, I used to proudly say, ‘My laptop is my best friend.’

I enjoyed all the reading I did on it, the videos I watched, the courses I subscribed to, and all the other information and entertainment I received from it.

But when my career reached a stage where I was writing 5,000–6,000 new words a week, and editing several thousand more, I couldn’t help but feel burdened by its constant presence in front of my eyes…

I’d return home from the office with my eyes looking narrow and strained…Using the laptop had become an occupational hazard…and it is now as well…

As I write and edit for clients, and for my blogs — forgetting the ticking of the clock — I realise how infrequently I switch off from the screen.

But it is essential for us to consciously take a break from it, and look away every now and then.

While incessant exposure to computer or phone screens have not shown any long-term damage to the eyes, in the short-term one may feel headaches, blurred vision, or sore eyes.

Doctors have termed any screen-related eye issue as ‘computer vision syndrome’ or ‘CVS’ (source). They believe most of it is caused due to excessive fatigue of the eye muscles.

The classic remedy to combat this is the ‘20–20–20 rule’. It suggests you look away from your screen every 20 minutes, at something which is 20 feet away, and you look at it for at least 20-seconds (source).

But of course you can be creative while taking your 20-minute breaks too…

Here are my top five suggestions to help you disconnect from your screen every time you look away from it:

  1. Try chair yoga: Yoga on your chair is a sure-shot way to relax your body and eye muscles. Google chair yoga and you’ll find several exercises you can do during your screen breaks. Some common ones are neck rotation, forward bends, and twists. Chair yoga will help you stretch and unwind during work hours.
  2. Do breathing exercises: Simple pranayama or breathing exercises can help you detox your mind and eyes from incessant screen use. Shut your eyes and try alternate nostril breathing… Close your right nostril, breathe in from the left, then close your left nostril, and breathe out from the right… Now alternate it, and you have completed one cycle. Do as many cycles as you need to feel lighter and stress free.
  3. Look at greenery: Look at the plants in your office or look at any greenery you have access to in your work space. If your desk faces a window, look out of it every 20 minutes, and take in the scenery outside. This will distract you briefly, and help you disconnect from the screen, without you getting out of your seat.
  4. Take a coffee break: Getting up from your seat to drink a glass of water or to make a cup of coffee or tea is always a good way to take a break. You may just bump into someone and have a lighthearted conversation too…a good way to switch off from the screen briefly.
  5. Talk to people: Yes, friends, colleagues, and family are useful diversions when working. They give you the odd bit of news or gossip, and ensure you don’t look at your screen too hard. If you haven’t heard from anyone in a while, start a conversation yourself, but just ensure it’s not too long!

These were just a few ways to detox from your computer screen. I’m sure many of you have more solutions. Do write your comments below, and give our many readers, and me, your interesting insights.

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