How to Avoid Screen Fatigue

Photo: Coach Julious‘ home teaching setup (taken by Coach Jade)

Do you experience any of these symptoms due to longer hours working or studying online?

  • Impaired vision
  • Strained eye muscles
  • Inability to focus your vision
  • Neck and shoulder discomfort
  • Poor posture and painful headaches

Then, you may have “screen fatigue.”

Online platforms have taken over our studies, work, and even casual interactions with friends. Before you officially turn into a “Zoombie” here are some tips to avoid the dangerous pit of screen fatigue.

1. Care for your eyes

This first tip may be easier to do than the next 3 tips since this targets the physiological cause of screen fatigue, mainly your eyes.

  • Use proper lighting in your room or work station. Use a study lamp to focus on the work at hand and softer lighting to brighten your room space.
  • Adjust the brightness of your computer screen, text size and contrast to comfortable levels.
  • Exercise your eyes. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes or so and look at something around 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
  • Blink often to keep your eyes moist.
  • Position your screen so that your gaze is slightly downward.
  • Sit about 25 inches away from your computer screen in a comfortable chair.

2. Make time for  frequent short breaks  in between your work and study time.

Working or studying online differs from physical face-to-face engagement where you can take breaks as often as you feel like it or at least after a class hour or at designated office recess or lunch times.

Zoom meetings and online lectures can be taxing too since paying attention requires fixing your eyes on your computer screen.

It’s best to have short breaks, even if it’s just a two to five-minute time away from the computer screen. You can turn off your camera every 10 minutes and look away from the screen. You can also stand up every 30 minutes and stretch your body to prevent back pains. Set a quick phone timer each time to help remind you.

3. Limit unnecessary screen time.

If you have a printer at home or physical books, you can use these for studying instead of reading e-books.

After online classes or meetings, instead of playing games on your mobile or computer, resort to other forms of  relaxation such as listening to music, doodling, painting, planting, cooking or simply fixing your room or work space.

4. Draw Boundaries

Before the pandemic, you can leave work in your office after work hours and rest when you get home.

Nowadays under a work-from-home setup, there are more chances you will be working more hours (if you are compensated on a performance basis) since your personal computer is just at hand. If you are a student, you may be needing more hours in front of the screen to watch learning videos or do your online readings since the temptation to view other favorite internet sites is just too strong to resist.

Setting limits and defining our priorities may help us avoid the unhealthy effects of screen fatigues. As an employee, block a specific time of the day solely for online tasks if your employer allows this or, designate a certain time of day to rest from answering any emails or work calls unless it’s very urgent. On weekends, or after official hours, you can set the best time for zoom calls to enable you to spend time with your family.

If you are a student, you may want to leave online groups which are not directly contributing to your academic performance but luring you to play online network games or chat over trivia.

Screen fatigue is almost inevitable these days, but doing the above tips can at least prevent it and save us from a host of health problems including permanently bad vision and sleep disorder.

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