Health and Wellness: Fighting Off Screen Fatigue

With classes, administration meetings, and off-hour social hangouts all being online, you can be tired of the screen.

If you are teaching online, you might be experiencing screen fatigue from all the video calls replacing in-person learning. With classes, administration meetings, and off-hour social hangouts all being online, you may be tired of the screen. We were not made to look at a screen for extended lengths of time, and symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or blurred vision can make us dread another day in front of the computer.

Schedule breaks away from the screen. I know as soon as you get off a Zoom call, it can be very easy to check your email, refresh social media on your phone, or look up something online. However, step away from the computer instead. Find a spot on the wall and stare at it for a minute just to readjust your mind to the reality around you and encourage students to do the same. The recommendation from the American Optometric Association is to take a break every 20 minutes and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Have a bright and cheery photo of you as your profile picture to appear if you need a quick break from being on camera. Even if it is a five-second break from being on camera to close your eyes, sneeze, or yawn, a little break can help you shake off the constant visibility and strained attention on the screen.

Print your lessons out on recycled paper or use hand-written notes or calendars rather than housing them on the computer. This will give you cause to look away from the screen from time to time and give your eyes the adequate break they need.

Adjust your work space to have as much natural light as possible. Too little light in the room can make the screen ever more predominant, but too much light can make you squint. Adjust the brightness on your monitor to a comfortable setting, and alter the settings as needed when the light changes throughout the day.

Invest in blue-light glasses or adjust the system preferences on your devices. Many electronic devices have settings that can filter out some of the harmful blue light or reduce glare, such as “dark mode.”

Practice proper posture. Keeping the right amount of space between you and your computer, adjusting your chair height, and having your eyes align with the top of the screen can all help your eyes from straining or becoming overwhelmed by the screen.

Let your eyes fully rest. Sometimes after a long day of screen time, the best cure I have found is sitting in a dark room and closing my eyes. If you are mentally alert but your eyes feel heavy, this would be a good time to listen to an audiobook or catch up on your favorite podcast.

After the school day, try to find creative ways to get out of the house for your favorite hobbies and to safely socialize. Schedule a walk with a friend, run errands, paint or sketch, solve a crossword puzzle, play an instrument, or anything else that is an escape from the screen.