Today we’re going to look at a fast exercise that you can do to counter computer strain.
If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time staring at a computer, a phone, or some other electronic device.
One of the things that happen as we spend more time staring at these screens is we begin to develop poor eye habits, poor visual habits. Usually, what happens as we spend four, six, eight hours a day staring at a screen, our eyes begin to adapt to that.
One of the things that a lot of people don’t realize or understand about our visual system is that how we see is actually very habitual. If we want to improve our eyes, we want to improve how our eyes feel throughout the day, we have to do something non-habitual in order to create change. We need to make our brain pay attention to it.
I’m currently in the middle of rewriting a bunch of stuff within our office, so I’m spending lots and lots of hours in front of the computer currently. I wanted to share with you today one of my very favorite eye relaxation exercises. It’s taken from some of the work that we do with the vestibular system, our balance system, of the body. You can use it in several different ways.
The reason I’m bringing that up is that when you first start trying this exercise, be careful, because if it makes you dizzy that may mean that you have a little bit of an issue in the inner ear that needs to be addressed. Let’s go through this very simple idea, very simple exercise. Just follow along.
The first thing I want you to do if you’re in front of your computer: get up. You have to move away from the computer for this exercise. I want you up and standing and breathing a little bit.
The second thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to take our either thumb or index finger and hold it maybe a foot to a foot and a half in front of your eyes. Create a soft focus on your fingernail. Not a hard focus, like you’re reading something on your iPad, but instead a soft focus. I want you to see the finger, but see the rest of the room.
Once you have a soft focus on that, you’re going to start to just make a motion like this. I’m rotating up on the balls of my feet as I turn side to side.
The whole idea, as I do this, is I’m keeping that soft focus on the index finger. I also want to be paying attention to what’s happening to the rest of the world in addition to the finger.
As I move my finger to the right, the rest of the world goes left, and vice versa. One of the nice parts about this simple little exercise is that it will get your eyes to relax, and your eyes will relax more so whenever you try to see other details in addition to just focusing on the finger. The contrast between the soft focus of the close-up object and the rest of the world moving behind you often is fantastic for getting you to relax. That’s step one, just a nice side-to-side movement. Again, the soft focus here, notice the rest of the world.
Step two, then. We want to do that in an up and down direction. I normally will switch to my thumb for this one. I’m not going to be moving my body like this. You can do that. To keep it simple, you’re just going to take the thumb and you’re going to follow the thumb with your eyes.
Again, keeping a soft focus on the thumb, but, more importantly, paying attention to the world moving behind the thumb. Let me give you a couple of specific details to help fix problems that may come up as you do this drill.
The number-one problem that I see is as people start to move they get really fixated on the finger, and their head and finger come together because they think that the goal is to focus on the fingernail. That’s not the case. Stay up tall. If you need to, you can adjust the finger.
Don’t even care if you see it really clear right now, because, remember, we’re working in a soft focus. Number one, just pay attention as you go through the exercise. Do you see the rest of the world? If you become overly fixated on the target, that’s going to defeat the purpose, and you will continually add tension to your eyes. That would be number one.
Number two; be careful with speed, particularly if the drills make you dizzy at all. It is perfectly okay to move at a much more sedate pace because you can still see the world. If you need help, in other words, if you need to create something to make sure you’re focusing on details, going slower as you’re moving will actually allow you to see more of the peripheral detail, and that may make the exercise more effective for you, especially in the beginning.
Use those to problem solve, if you need to. Otherwise, good luck.
My recommendation for this little exercise is to do about 20 repetitions of the rotational aspect, 20 repetitions of the vertical. Then, if you’re feeling feisty, you can start doing some different diagonals. You can do some other body movements.
It doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re maintaining soft focus on the hand or finger and also paying attention to the rest of the world. The movement of this, the breathing that comes with it, and then, again, acquiring around 20 repetitions of each will give your eyes a great chance to relax.
It’s fantastic to do on your breaks throughout the day, assuming you take them. You should be taking them. Get up, away from your desk. Move around. Exercise your eyes. Learn to use them non-habitually. They’ll thank you for it.
If you have any questions about this, let me know.