The modern era is awash with electronic gadgets which most of us seem to stare at all day. Coffee shops are filled with people texting each other on phones. Homes are occupied by kids glued to the computer screen whilst playing addictive video games. Those who work often do so at computer desks, then come home and slouch in front of massive HD TV screens to watch TV shows and movies.
Staring at these brightly lit screens all day is not doing our eyes or brain any favors. According to WebMD 50-90% of people who work on computers have trouble with their eyes. They state that kids addicted to video games are in a similar situation. Other problems are tied to staring at screens too much, including headaches and neck pain.
Many of us need to take a step back from these unhealthy habits. Here are a few tips on how to disconnect from the harmful effects of electronic screens and hopefully lower stress levels at the same time.
Give Your Eyes Some Rest
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. Look away from your phone/computer/TV screen for at least 3 minutes and close your eyes. Then rub your hands together until they feel hot. Now place your palms over your eyes. The heat and darkness will give your eyes a rejuvenating rest.
People with poor eyesight have been using this technique for years. The break from intense artificial light helps to take the strain off your eyes. The heat from your palms helps to encourage blood flow. It is kind of like re-setting your eyes to the state you were in when first waking up. Repeat this as often as you like, ideally every hour to start and increasing the frequency with prolonged sessions in front of a screen.
Use Your Screens for Something Else
The folks at Uscenes have been encouraging this for a while now. They advise people to use their TV and computer screens to display scenes from nature. A simple video or screensaver of a still scene from nature with relaxing sounds will stop you staring at the screen. After a few moments looking at the footage you will find yourself looking elsewhere or even closing your eyes.
The added benefit of these background videos and screensavers is that they can also encourage people to focus on things like reading books or conversation. They have been known to aid in stress reduction techniques such as meditation and yoga.
Avoid Electronics Before Bedtime
According to a study carried out by the National Sleep Foundation, avoiding any artificial light one hour before sleeping can stop negative effects such as insomnia. Artificial light can stop the body creating melatonin which makes it more difficult to get to sleep.
Instead of using electronic devices before sleep you could read a book or magazine. At the very least you should avoid bright devices like phones and tablets which are held close to the eyes. If you must use these screens, then turning the brightness down will help.
There are many more ways to disconnect such as taking up meditation, but the general rules to follow are to give your eyes a regular rest and avoid straining the eyes by turning down brightness levels. This is most important for children as we do not yet know what the long term effects of computer, phone and computer screens will have. Be mindful of over-use of electronic devices, in the long run your eyes will thank you and you may feel other benefits like better sleep and less stress.