“I’m so tired I can barely see straight.” When was the last time you said that? Did you literally mean that, or did you say it as a figure of speech? My guess: It was a little of both.

The eyes, like every other part of our body, are prone to getting tired. And, computers (television, too, to a certain extent) create a unique challenge for our eyes.

Computers cause a significant amount of strain on the eyes, simply because we end up staring at one object, at one focal distance, for a lot of hours each day. Unfortunately, this can wreak havoc, because that one thing is what our eyes get really good at doing—they get good at looking at one spot 2 to 3 feet away from our faces.

Short-term, we mostly get tired. Try holding your body perfectly still for just one minute. A lot of work, huh? Now, think of your eye musculature having to hold your eyes in more or less one position all day long.

Long-term, the effects are more profound. Your eye muscles forget how to move—you can no longer see things “out of the corner of your eye”. You have trouble driving because the eye muscles can’t move quickly from the speedometer to the rear-view mirror to the road. You don’t see the cute guy across the bar because he’s more than 2 to 3 feet from you.

Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do:

1) Eye massage. This one is a lot simpler than it sounds. Close your eyes and GENTLY tap and massage around the edges of the socket. Keep doing this for a few minutes. You should find yourself relaxing, and when you re-open your eyes, you will feel refreshed and more awake.

2) Eye tracking. Hold a finger up in front of you, arm outstretched, and make a large, slow circle. Your finger should trace this invisible circle near the edges of where you can still clearly see it. Make a couple of circles in each direction (Tip: You can change hands halfway to make the circle large enough). This drill will help ensure that you are seeing everything in your visual field, including that cute guy…

3) Work with your computer at different distances or locations. Changing light, distance, and height all make a difference. Occasionally move the monitor back and forth a few inches, put the monitor up on some books, etc. If you work from a laptop, consider getting an external keyboard and monitor if you have the room and money. Even an external keyboard and pushing the laptop further away will make a significant difference.

Next time you are on deadline and need “just a bit more energy to push through,” give one of these tips a try. Let me know how it goes. jen@movefitfun.com

Jennifer Waak is a Seattle-based movement coach who uses a system that combines eastern philosophy with western medicine to reprogram the nervous system and get people out of pain, moving better, and feeling younger.

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