5 Ways to Lessen the Stress of Computer Screens on Your Body

Guest Post by Courtney Gordner, DEG Contributor

In 2014, people are more overworked than ever before. Between work and home stresses, we often forget about our own health. Many people today are spending hours and hours in front of a computer monitor at work only to continue spending hours and hours in front of a computer (or tablet, phone, etc.) at home.

Eyes behind the screen via tobeyal on Flickr.com

Eyes behind the screen via tobeyal on Flickr.com

Computers encourage us to focus on what is right in front of our eyes. When you think about the way our bodies evolved, this behavior starts to look somewhat disconcerting. Humans, with their stereoscopic (3D) vision, are suited for viewing things from a distance. When our ancestors went hunting, it was important they could accurately throw spears at wandering prey and, likewise, avoid getting close enough to become prey themselves.

But depth doesn’t matter much when viewing a computer screen right in front of us. In fact, viewing computer screens may cause temporary problems when viewing far away objects when you step away from the computer monitor.

Have you ever stepped away from your computer and had trouble focusing on objects? Did things look blurry? This is a commonly reported side effect of staring at a computer screen for hours at a time. But how can we avoid this problem as well as the numerous other vision problems associated with computer monitors? Here are five tips to lessen the stress of computer screens on your body:

1. Take Breaks

Hopefully you’re taking the occasional break already. More of us than ever are working through our breaks. However, no one ever succeeded through quantity of hours worked alone. Never taking breaks will make your mind to wander. Yes, you may desperately need some 1966 Mustang parts for that classic car you’re fixing up in your garage, but is work really the time to be doing that research? It is important to stay productive throughout the whole workday, and taking breaks will help you do just that.

But the number of extended breaks you can take is likely limited by your workplace, so what can you do? It’s a good idea to every so often look up and past your computer monitor. Focus on an object in the distance for a moment. This will help prevent your vision from blurring unpleasantly whenever you finish working at your computer.

2. Blink and Use Artificial Tears

It’s easy to get into a trance-like state when sitting in front of a glowing computer screen. Your eyes may glaze over, and perhaps you might notice yourself breathing heavier, possibly through your mouth in more extreme cases. In some cases, these trance-like moments are what many of us strive for in the modern workplace. The pressure is on like never before to be as productive as humanly possible. But these moments can have a downside when they occur in front of a computer monitor (save living in the moment for moments you enjoy!).

So how do we prevent the burning sensations and dryness that these trances cause? Simple: be more mindful of your body. Being more aware of your posture is always a good idea, and it doesn’t hurt to simply pay a bit of attention to your eyes as well.

Tell yourself that you need to blink every so often, and if that sounds like a hassle, at least blink when you notice your eyes burning. Additionally, artificial tears can make a world of difference when you’ve been staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

3. Wear properly prescribed glasses

While it’s never a good idea to wear old or badly prescribed glasses (or no glasses at all, if you need them), it’s essential to wear proper glasses when working on a computer for extended periods of time. All this talk about focusing on close and distant objects as well as vision blur gets thrown out the window if you can’t focus on anything to begin with do to your poor glasses prescription.

4. Don’t work in the dark

While this one may seem obvious, don’t work in the dark when using a computer for extended periods of time. The contrast of light and darkness will prevent your pupils from properly adjusting to their surroundings. Should your pupils shrink to view the bright screen or dilate to view the dark surroundings? A struggle will ensue. If you must work in the dark, at least turn your brightness down.

5. Utilize helpful software aids

Lastly, there is software out there that can help your computer screen feel more natural and less fatiguing. Flu.x is one such piece of software. Available for OS X, Windows and iOS, Flu.x makes the light of your computer warmer at night, mimicking candles, lights in your home and other light sources you would expect at night.

During the day, the monitor will revert to more typical, daylight-style colors. These color changes occur gradually throughout the day. Software like Flu.x helps rid you of insomnia caused by the unnatural, daylight-style light of typical computer monitors.

So there you have it: a number of ways to better cope with the visual stress of the computer-intensive modern workplace. While this may seems like a lot of information, a lot of these habits will come naturally if you remain mindful of three things: how your eyes feel, the quality of your vision and the lighting of your monitor and room. With these factors in mind, you’re sure to start leading a more vision-friendly, computer-intensive life.

Courtney Gordner, DEG Consulting ColumnistCourtney Gordner is a blogger/journalist who loves to write. While she enjoys writing about a variety of topics, internet marketing and social media are her favorites. You can read more from her on her blog, Talk Viral or connect with her on Twitter, @CourtGordnerPinterest and Google+.

About Daniel Gold

Daniel Gold is a productivity coach, keynote speaker, author, and podcaster. He is most well known for his eBooks, Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Capturing Everything and Getting Things Done, Simplify your Life with Springpad, and Make it Happen: How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your eBook. Daniel is also the co-host of the GTD® Virtual Study Group podcast.