How To Make your Computer Work Better for your Health
Many of us work long hours at a computer or other screen. I’ve been doing this since 1999 when I built my first website! I used to spend around 16 hours a day reading, researching and writing for numerous blogs and clients.
Then, almost imperceptibly, these long hours started to take its toll on my health.
I started to suffer from insomnia, headaches and dizziness. At the time, although it seems silly to admit it now, I didn’t attribute it to excessive screen use.
But since seeing a chiropractor, I’ve learned how much posture has gradually changed over the years and forced my head forwards.
If you’re suffering from ‘tech neck’, here are some of the things I’ve found that work for me.
Change the way you work
One of the first things I did was to make a simple change to my desk. I got a standing desk, which meant I could choose whether to sit or stand when typing and taking Zoom calls. This has been an incredible benefit for my spine health and keeps me feeling less tired. It’s also much better for circulation. As you know by now, I like to support brands that are making a sustainable difference, like this one that supplies eco-friendly tools. These desks are one of the few eco friendly standing desks.
Take eye breaks
Staring at the screen for hours, especially under bright artificial lighting, can cause eye strain, tiredness and dryness. One of the best things I’ve found for this is an app called Eye Saver. I’ve set mine so that every 20 minutes, it reminds me to stare at something 20 feet away for 20 minutes. It also reminds me to take a proper 10 minute break every 10 minutes. I find an app helpful as it’s amazing how quickly time flies when you’re in a virtual world!
Get an eye test
Talking of eyes, something I put off for years was having an eye test. But when I did, and ended up with a pair of glasses specifically designed for my eyes, it was a game changer. Previously I’d bought off-the-shelf glasses and not rated them much. But when I bought prescription glasses, a whole new world opened up to me. I was also reassured by my optician, that the headaches I was having were not caused by anything sinister.
Filter blue light
Another utility I use on my computer is a screen filter. It’s been shown that light on the blue or green spectrum can affect our sleep pattern. During the day, we want full spectrum light, as found in sunshine and daylight, but if you’re working in the evening, you want that blue light toned right down. Some computers have built in grey scale filters that you can experiment with. I have one where I can pull out the blue / green spectrum and add in more red – think of the natural colours of sunset or a real fire – these are the colours you’re looking for.
Use blue blocking glasses
If you can’t get a filter for your screen, use the filter on your eyes with blue blocking glasses. Usually red or amber in colour, these help when you’re using a screen in the evenings. Ideally you’d avoid using screens up to three hours before bed time, but if it’s essential, you can protect the blue light from keeping you awake with blue blockers. I’ve since switched to pink lenses which I was advised to wear all the time, as it turns out those headaches and dizziness I’ve been having are, in fact, vestibular migraines.
Move your body
My chiropractor says she doesn’t care what I do to move, but I must move. So during those quick breaks every 10 minutes, I might run up and down the stairs, do some shoulder rolls and a few specific rehab exercises that I’ve been given. One of the best things you can do is get outside to allow natural light to hit your face and eyes. You’ll be getting fresh air and some vitamin D at the same time, so it’s a win-win!
What about you – how do you stay healthy when using screens?