Today, many people work in offices. With the post tittle I am not saying that working in the office is a nightmare and you have to survive of someway or another. But, you will agree with me that your eyes and your body feel resentful. Although I don't mean only offices, I actually mean people who use the computer for many hours every day. And yes, I am also inside that group; I do not work in a conventional office, but I spend many hours at the computer everyday for work.
There are several factors affecting our eyesight at work; Lack of rest, prolonged use of the computer and screens at close distance, lack of blinking, artificial light, bad posture and lack of mobility for hours, use of chairs and desks which don't suit to our anatomy, computers screens not aligned to our eyes, the stress of certain professional activities, and a long etcetera.
Eyes are of vital importance in our daily life. About 80% of the information that we receive comes from the eyes. That is a lot. Think about it. We use them for everything, and obviously to work, too.
Why don't to apply a few changes while we are working to reduce tension and improve our life quality?
1. Take breaks
Every hour, you should get up, stretching the muscles and if it is possible to walk a little bite, even by the office.
Download an app on the computer that tells you when to rest. Set it up every 30 minutes to remind you to take a short break and change the view of the computer by looking away for at least 15 seconds.
Here, you have a selection of programs which help you with it. Although there are many more that you can find on the net:
For Windows and Linux
2. Blink often
We should blink often, gently and in a relaxed way. We shouldn't move much the muscles around the eyes, only the eyelids. Try to integrate the blinking while you are using the computer (Also when you don't use it!). If you forget it, place a post-it on the computer which says; Blink, look away, look up, look at the right, look at the left, look down and breathe.
3. Massage your eyes
The eye massage is very relaxing for your eyesight and the results are immediate. Do it always you feel tiredness on your eyes. At least, massage your eyes once per day during your workday. It won't take more than 5 minutes.
Close your eyes (not like the gif, please) and make soft circles with your fingertips at 4 points around the eye; Cheekbones, temples, eyebrows and bridge of the nose. Count 5 breaths in one direction and 5 breaths in the other one. Do 10 breaths in total in each one of the 4 points.
4. Look away
When we look at something that is close, the ciliary muscle contracts and the lens becomes thick (like a magnifying glass) allowing us to see objects at close range. The ciliary muscle is contracted and tense. Instead, when we look away the muscle relaxes, then the lens becomes thin. The conclusion is that we need to look away to relax the lens.
Whenever you can, look away; Take breaks to look out from the window or if you can, go outside for a few minutes.
A very good idea is to look away before working for a few minutes. And looking away again a few hours after work. That can help you to relax your lens.
Remember not to look with effort, try to scan the landscape and do it without glasses.
5. Place your computer in front of a window
If you are lucky enough to have a window behind your computer is great. Time to time, move your eyes from the computer and look through the window as far as you can. If that is not possible, you can put a colorful picture or poster on the wall behind the computer to change the focus, relaxing your vision while you stimulate it with colors.
6. Practice palming
Palming is a star to relax your eyesight. Do not be embarrassed to do it in the office. Tell everyone how to do it as well as its benefits. They can try it and see how the relaxation on their eyes is imminent. Weirder things have been seen in the office :)
Remember to look for a comfortable position; your head in line with the neck. Rub your hands before you start to generate heat and cover your eyes closed with your palms. Check that no light comes in. Concentrate on your breathing and keep your hands relaxed. Keep palming for at least 3 minutes, but ideally a minimum of 6 minutes.
7. Sit in a proper position
Use a chair that you can adjust according to your height, and make it comfortable. The position of your body should be with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Sit at a distance from which you can read the screen comfortably. The screen should be in line with your eyes.
8. Set up a proper lighting
Natural light is always the best option. If this is not possible, try to buy full spectrum light bulbs (they simulate natural light), but they are expensive. The more you can avoid working at night, the better. If you use any other bulb, try not to point to your eyes and not to dazzle the screen.
Download F.lux, an application that modifies the tone of your screen to adapt to the light needs of your environment. The screens in warm and yellow tones during the night are better for our eyesight.
9. Stretch your body
Sitting for hours looking at a screen not only affects your eyes; Your body is also altered. Humans are not anatomically designed to spend 8 hours sitting in an office chair looking at a screen. That was not our role in the world, but today it seems to be. When you do breaks stretch your whole body; make gentle rotations with the neck, stretch your arms above your head, move your shoulders. Any movement will help you relax.
10. Practice the long swing
That's true. If you practice the long swing at work, you will be officially the office weirdo. What can we do if we are weird? :) If you do it in the middle of your workday for about 5 minutes, it will help you to relax your eyesight and body. If you are not convinced by that idea, you can always do it when you get home or before bed.
Remember to keep a straight posture, the tailbone in, and the back straight in line with the neck. Open your legs at hip width distance and move from right to left. When you turn to the right, the whole body goes with you and the left heel rises and vice versa. Scan the landscape in front of you in a relaxed way.
Remind your boss that fatigue affects your productivity. A healthy and harmonious work environment will help to improve the results in the company.
You only have to convince your boss to adapt a room with hammocks to rest and make your palmings. Oh yes, and some mats for corporate yoga classes :) It sounds like a joke, but many companies already have yoga classes. Why not some vision classes? Check my vision workshop for companies for more details.
And as always do not get stressed. Use the changes that you like. If you can not do everything, at least choose 4 or 5 adaptations. It is always better than nothing.