5 Free Apps for Reminders to Take a Break From Screens
You know that staring at the screen for too long isn’t good for your health or your eyesight, but it’s easy to get sucked in. Use these apps to get a reminder to take a break from apps and screen time, and take care of your health.
Continuous screen usage can lead to severe eye strain, neck pain in the cause of phones, and sitting too long causes health issues too. It’s also surprisingly easy to avoid all these problems by simply switching off every once in a while. Usually, a break reminder app is all you need.
1. Stretchly (Windows, macOS, Linux): Simple Reminder for Micro and Long Breaks
For most people, Stretchly is the break reminder that will change how you use the computer. The app enables both micro-breaks as well as scheduled long breaks that will keep you focussed.
A small popup will let you know before it’s time to take a break, and then remind you when it’s time. One of the nicer features of Stretchly is that you can skip to the next break or micro-break at any time, in case you feel like stopping right now and not later. The micro-break is every 10 minutes, for 20 seconds, where the app recommends a few stretches to keep your body healthy. Every 30 minutes, it suggests a longer 5-minute break.
You can naturally customize the duration of micro-breaks and long breaks, as well as how long a break should last. In fact, Stretchly can even become a simple Pomodoro timer to be more productive.
In case you don’t want to take a break, you can skip the prompt and continue working. But if you do this too often, you’re putting your own health at risk. You might want to enable the “strict mode” to ensure you stick to the breaks.
2. Stretch Reminder (Android, iOS): Reminders and GIFs to Stretch Periodically
Stretchly isn’t available for smartphones, but Stretch Reminder might be an even better app to take a break. It sends unobtrusive periodic reminders to look away from your computer screen and do a few stretches.
The app is simple and gorgeous. First, set how often you want to receive notifications. You can select an interval of one to six hours, and set a start and end time during the work day. When you get a reminder, head to the second screen of the app, Stretches.
Stretch Reminder offers 17 different stretches that limber up different parts of your body. All of these stretches are made with an office worker in mind. They can be done while sitting on your chair, or require minimal room to stand. And they don’t look silly either, so you won’t be causing a scene in front of others.
I’d recommend starting with a break every hour, and trying different stretches each time to loosen up varied body parts. If you’re working in front of a screen for long hours, use this break reminder app to also take care of your shoulders and neck.
3. Eye Care 20 20 20 (Android, iOS): Put Down Your Mobile
The screens of computers and phones are backlit, casting their light into your eyes. Over time, this can take a toll. In fact, you should check if you have the tell-tale signs of computer eye strain .
Eye Care 20 20 20 is a mobile app to relieve this eye strain using an age-old technique. The idea is that every 20 minutes of using a screen, look at something 20 feet away, for no less than 20 seconds. Apparently this is the relief your eyes need to stay healthy and not get dry.
The Eye Care 20 20 20 app will simply give you simple reminders when the time comes, and not mess around more than that. By that, we mean it isn’t reliant on whether the screen has been on for all of those 20 minutes or not, that reminder is coming.
You can dive into the app’s settings to customize it further, so that you can either manually start it or set it to start automatically at a certain time every day.
4. Unhook (Android): Set Screen Time Limits, And Walk to Get More Time
Unhook is the most different app in this list. It doesn’t have reminders to take breaks, but instead, it forces breaks upon you.
Here’s how it works. You set a daily time limit for different types of screen usage, such as social apps, video streaming, and games. Once you cross the limit you set, Unhook makes you walk to unlock more time. For every 100 steps that you walk, you will get 10 minutes of extra usage time on the phone. The data is gathered through the built-in Google Fit on Android, which you can sync with any of your favorite fitness apps as well..
Don’t worry, it isn’t an intrusive and strict app. When you really need to browse your phone but can’t be bothered with those extra steps, you can switch off Unhook and continue using the phone as usual. But use this sparingly, it’s all about self-discipline.
Download: Unhook for Android (Free)
5. Micro Breaks (Chrome): Customizable Reminder for Multiple Breaks
If you use Google Chrome, don’t look further than this little extension for all your break reminders. Micro Breaks is the simplest and best tool for the job.
By default, there are a few reminders already set for healthy habits. This includes:
- Breathing: Breathe in and out to manage stress, for 2 minutes, every 2 hours.
- 20/20/20: Prevent digital eye strain by looking at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
- Break: A simple break, for 6 minutes, every 80 minutes.
- Exercise: Stand up and stretch to relieve muscles, for 2 minutes, every hour.
Micro Breaks also lets you set up any custom reminders you might want, and it’s all free. This is hands down the simplest implementation of a timer reminder in Chrome. Nonetheless, you might want to check out other excellent Chrome extensions to keep you healthy at your desk .
Download: Micro Breaks for Chrome (Free)
Fix Your Posture Quickly
These apps solve that important problem of getting a reminder to regularly take a break from your computer or phone screen. You could also use the any other reminder app to help you. But they don’t always tell you what to do when you take those breaks.
One of the best options for desk workers is to try out this 3-minute exercise to fix your posture. You can do it anywhere, and it doesn’t look so weird that the whole office will stare at you.