Most people spend a lot of time time in front of a screen, whether it be a computer, a phone, or a TV. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it can take a physical toll on your eyes, your neck, your back, and your wrists. In the digital age it has already got a name.
Computer Vision Syndrome is bringing a lot of the young and old to the physicians. Most of us experience it, and all of us can prevent it with some healthy habits.
Here are 7 ways you can reduce the time you spend in front of a screen without missing out on your favorite activities.
Read Paper Books
E-readers, tablets, and phones have made it easy to have any book ever written at your fingertips no matter where you are, but the backlit screens on most of these devices can contribute to eye strain if you spend too much time looking at them. Be kind to your eyes and read paper books — a small book is easy to stash in a briefcase, purse, or backpack, and keeping one next to your bed will encourage you to read before you go to sleep.
Set an Alarm
If you get engrossed in your work, it can be hard to remember to take a break. Fortunately, there are a number of different apps that you can use for reminders to rest your eyes. EyeLeo reminds to you take short breaks and do a few eye exercises every ten minutes, and blocks the screen for a longer break every hour.
You don’t need something this advanced, though; you can just set a timer on your computer or your phone to go off every 30 minutes or so. When it does, close your eyes, dim your screen (or, even better, turn it off), and focus on something further away.
We talk about the Pomodoro Technique a lot. You can use the breaks to build your own 20-20-20 rule for preventing eye strain. Pomodoro timers are available for every platform. eyeCare is a simple Chrome extension that is designed with the rule in mind.
Take Notes on Paper
If you’re a student or you take part in a lot of meetings, this could potentially cut out hours of screen time each day. Taking notes on a computer is good, but jotting them on paper is even better — not only is it easier on your eyes, but it’s also better for recall; you’ll remember more of what you hear.
And if you need the easy access and organizational capacity available from a note-taking app, you can just type your notes later (or digitize them), which will go even further toward helping you remember what you wrote down.
Play Board Games
There are some great iPad board games out there, but playing on a real board is a social experience that can’t be matched. If you already know gamers, great! Just plan a game night. If not, you could try a game like Guillotine, which is great for people who are new to board games. Or use a service like board-games.meetup.com to find a gaming group near you.
If you’re into storytelling or want to capture the feel of a video game more than a board game, give a tabletop role-playing game a try. You can download some for free or try your hand at some great indie RPGs. No idea what a tabletop RPG is? Check out these 5 websites that will help you learn.
Read Newspapers and Magazines
There are loads of great places to get the news online, and most magazines now have mobile versions, so you could easily get all your news from your many devices. Why not read some of these things in paper form and give your eyes a rest? Newspapers are pretty inexpensive, and most magazines charge about the same for a print subscription as a digital one (you can usually get both for just a little more, too).
Sure, you won’t be able to get the instant breaking news this way, but you’ll still hear about things through social media and quick checks of the news online. But when you want to sit down and get a handle on what’s happening in the world, reach for a hard copy.
Track Your Screen Time
How many hours a day do you spend looking at a screen? It’s probably more than you think. A number of studies have been done on the amount of time that people spend on screens, and the numbers are very high: kids spend about 7.5 hours each day looking at a screen, while adults spend 8 hours. That’s a lot.
To get an idea of how much screen time you get each day, keep track for a week. You can use something simple like an Excel spreadsheet, or you can use a dedicated app, like Moment. Moment will only track your phone screen time, but you can use a tool like the Let’s Move screen time tracker to get a more comprehensive view.
When was the last time you wrote a letter? It’s probably been years. And in the age of email, writing a letter on paper might seem ridiculous — and it is if you’re communicating with someone that you need to get in touch with on a regular basis. But if it’s someone who you just catch up with every few weeks or months, writing a letter is the perfect way to show them that they matter (and save yourself some screen hours).
No idea who to write to? Use one of these websites to send a letter to a soldier — they’ll appreciate it more than you know.
Rest Your Eyes, Improve Your Health
Spending too much time in front of the screen is bad for your health — it’s hard on your eyes, and sitting in front of a computer can be bad for your back and your wrists. Desk exercises can help a lot, but swapping out a screen activity for a non-screen one will do you a lot of good. Why not give it a try? Your eyes will thank you.
Do you do any of these things away from the computer? Do you feel eye strain or headaches after looking at a screen for hours? Or are you not bothered? Share your thoughts below!
Image Credits: suffering from eye strain Via Shutterstock, Pretty relaxed young woman, Silver stopwatch with silver laptop, Female being ready to take notes, Playing a game, Close-up of female hand on cup, Young and successful business man, Portrait of a young woman writing via Shutterstock.