limit screen time

Step Away From Your Screen and Rest Your Eyes

eye palming yoga

The phrase “screen time” has become a popular addition to our vocabulary over the past year or so. I mentioned it in my New Year’s post about positive intentions, and how I have made many changes to avoid living too much of my life behind a screen.

Quite a few of you had the same goal. I was chatting with a good friend of mine recently, who is a decade younger than me, and she too mentioned she wanted to step away from the screen this year.

It’s tough. And it’s especially tough when you’re a writer.

While it’s wonderful to mix it up and put pen to paper, feel that organic yumminess of scribbling away without staring at a monitor, we can’t escape the fact that computers make our writing efficient as hell.

In today’s world, it’s next to impossible to escape screens entirely. Most of us—yours truly included—have jobs where we peck away at a keyboard for 8-10 hours a day, eyes dutifully trained on a bright screen.

Now we have smartphones. I won’t knock them, because they have given us the opportunity to have technology at our beck and call. But naturally there are downsides to that…even more screen time.

And, if you watch TV or play video games when you’re relaxing. Guess what? More screen time.

Writers who are working on novels and/or blogging and/or keeping up with social media, are even more susceptible to screen life. The majority of us have full-time jobs, and our nights and weekends are spent behind a screen, because this is the tool we are using to move forward with our dreams.

The reality of screen time floors me often. I’ll never forget telling my parents over and over again—as a child, as a teen, and even my early years in college—I don’t want a “computer job.” They were both successful in the aerospace industry, but I only saw what they did as one of those computer jobs I wanted to avoid.

My parents both love to tease me about that, because look at me now—I have a computer job. Actually, I have a few.

This morning I performed my usual Saturday dance…what to do, what to do. I’m usually still wound up from the workweek, feeling behind on anything related to my personal writing that I have abandoned throughout the hectic week—my second draft and my blog, keeping up with my fellow writers’ blogs and social media updates.

Make the choice to step away from your screen. When you do, here are two of my favorite eye resting tips. You can do one without ever leaving your desk.

screen time

GET YOUR ASS OUTSIDE

Living in Portland, I know that I am lucky to have beautiful nature nearby to entice me away from my screen. The weather, despite the incessant gloom and rain, is pretty easy to deal with year-round.

Hiking is my weapon of choice for combating too much screen time. But even if you don’t have trails, you can go for a run or walk in your neighborhood or park. Though I live in the city, I find even a run in the urban chaos is enough to clear my head and rest my eyes, versus spending hours working on my computer.

If you can, find some nature to stare at for a while. Greenery and water are especially soothing for your eyes. I often notice my whole body breathe a sigh of relief the moment my eyes meet nature.

PALM YOUR EYES

Yeah, so you might have been wondering about the weird ass picture of me with my hands over my eyes up there. I’m doing something legit, promise. It’s an amazing Yoga move, called eye palming.

Didn’t know there was Yoga for your eyes? Dude, I didn’t either.

The first time I tried eye palming was in a Yin class, and I was so stunned by the immediate results. I showed this to my coworkers at our morning huddle and asked them all to join me. They already know I’m batshit crazy, so they played along.

What’s great about eye palming is you can do it anywhere, anytime. When you’re at work or you’re jamming on your novel and you can’t get away, simply rub your hands together and place your palms over your eyes for a bit.

If you still feel like your eyes need more resting time—or you just feel really damn good and you have another minute—repeat.

I’d love to know…what tips do you guys have for limiting screen time?


WWII thriller

45 thoughts on “Step Away From Your Screen and Rest Your Eyes

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m at a Cavs game right now (it’s half-time), so that’s my time away from the screen for today. Of course, I’m on a screen to comment here. 😉

    It really is difficult to get away from screens. Most people’s professional jobs–like yours–require them, and then our leisure time does too. So good for you for ditching it for nature. Something we all need to do more.

    As for the eye-palming, I’ll have to give it a try. 🙂

  2. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Gonna do this now. Gonna do it often. I need more yoga practice in my life. I do try to get out and breathe the fresh air. Also, it’s important to actually think about what you’re seeing and experiencing while you are outside. That whole being in the moment thing, rather than thinking about what you’ve got to do after you’re done being outside. Mindfulness. The key. Now, I’m going to get off this screen and go palm my eyes. Then I’m going to think lovely thoughts about you and all my friends, both near and far away. Namaste.

  3. Zen A. says:

    I love the idea of eye-palming! Will definitely try it out when I get home tonight.

    Most of my time is spent before a screen, whether it’s a computer, a phone or even a TV. I live alone, so I like to keep a communication channel going on with the rest of the world, if that makes sense. However, in the evening before I go to bed, I go take a walk for an hour. It’s dark (and absolutely safe, even at midnight), so my eyes feel totally relaxed. Plus I end up getting home tired and that helps with my insomnia, haha.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Hope you have fun palming, Zen! We’re all in the same boat with screens. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them to a certain extent. But I don’t want too much of my time being spent behind one if I can help it!

  4. cricketmuse says:

    Although I’m a teacher, I spend a lot of time on the computer inserting grades, creating lesson plans, and reading emails. This cuts down on my desire to come home and put more time in on the computer with writing projects. My solution to “screen scream” is to go for a walk, and read a book. Palming sounds interesting.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I hear ya, loud and clear! I used to be able to write in the evenings during the week, and I can’t bring myself to do it anymore. Now my weekends have been crammed, so I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just don’t have as much time to write.

      Walking is always a good option!

  5. danniehill says:

    This was dead-on post, Britt. I hope my goal of less TV and getting my ass outside more will be something I can maintain this year. I blame most of my writing troubles on TV, but of course I know the truth. I’m planning on a return to Thailand for a while to “get away from it all” and put some juice in my writing

  6. Ally Bean says:

    I’ll admit that I learned this in a yoga class decades ago, but had forgotten all about it. Back when I learned it, there was only one screen in my life (TV), but now screens are everywhere & this makes more sense to me. Thanks for reminding me.

  7. Andrea Stephenson says:

    My eyes would often be smarting by the end of the day, by the time I’d spent all day at a computer at work and then came home to spend more time on a computer! My break from the screen last year was heavenly, but now I’m back, I try to limit the days that I use the computer at home to a few days a week. My new found love in writing long-hand helps – I don’t have to give up writing but I don’t have to spend all that time at the computer – until it comes to typing it up of course! I just did some eye palming and it was very soothing 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      That’s what I do too…limit my home days behind the screen. I used to read blogs and respond to readers constantly, but I’ve learned to group them together on certain days so I can take a break. Glad you liked the palming, love!

  8. Sheila says:

    I missed this post because I was resting my eyes. 🙂 Seriously though, I try not to go on any sites on the weekends because of the eye resting thing. We’re on our computers way too much already during the work week. On the weekends, I’d much rather wander around outside. I love your forest picture – thank you for transporting me there! I’m tempted to stare at it for a long time but I won’t because of the eye resting thing. 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Haha, awesome! My goal is to get my blog reading/writing back into my weeknights, so I can have a computer-free day on the weekends. One of those will be a novel writing day…no escaping the screen there! But, I definitely love getting outside on the weekends, as you know. Once it gets warmer, even more so!

  9. Roy McCarthy says:

    Yep, get outside, commune with nature. Better still if you can work hard physically in the process. Then shower, coffee, back to screen time.

    Or – switch to a digital radio station and go do something else productive for a while. Crochet, origami, cleaning, cooking.

    I’ll pass on the eye-palming 🙂

  10. diannegray says:

    I have only been on my computer for five minutes this morning and my eyes started to ache and then I saw the title of this post in my inbox! I thought, “Can Britt see me?” haaaaaa. Okay, logging off now 😀

  11. Karin Van den Bergh says:

    Eye-palming! Yes, thanks for reminding me (remember this from yoga class long time ago)
    Pff..I have to admit I’m spending way too much time behind the computer when I’m not out teaching. While living in NE t was quite the opposite and I know you’re probably thinking “here we go again, nag nag” haha but yes it was so much easier then to just walk outside and to feel instantly rejuvenated by a brisk walk in the woods. I literally need to take the car to go for a walk here..but I know that’s just an excuse. Well, I do connect with my music and bowls in that way I rest my eyes a bit and practice my ears.. I guess that counts for something, right ;))

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      No, I completely understand. Thankfully I didn’t have a blog and such to keep up with when I lived in Dallas, or I would have been a complete shut-in. Music and bowls are a fantastic way to rest those eyes!

  12. Casey Sheridan says:

    Eye palming? That sounds very Britt and I’m going to give it a try. 🙂

    I have gotten rid of my television. No TV for this girl. And honestly, I don’t miss it. Much. Yes, on occasion, I wish I could turn it on and watch a rerun of some past favorite show, but I can live without it.

    Like you, I spend a lot of time at my day job in front of a computer screen. Who knew you’d do that in the jewelry biz? Anyway, I’m always staring at a screen whether it’s a monitor, iPad, iPhone, whatever, I needed a break. The TV was on it’s last legs anyway, so I just let it go.

    If I really need to stare at a television, I hop over to mum’s and watch a movie. She has tons of DVDs and she likes the company. :)!

    xoxo

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Haha! I’m honored that eye palming sounds very Britt!

      For the first time in years, we ended up getting cable back in December…mainly so Mr. H could catch some sports without having to go to the bar all the time. I don’t watch it very much. Just a couple of movies on the weekends, and maybe one travel show or documentary each week. I know it’s more screen time, so I try to focus on other things to relax.

  13. Kate Johnston says:

    I have noticed in the past month my eyes are becoming extraordinarily tired midday. Not good for someone who works on a computer 10+ hours a day, just like you talk about. I checked out the Yoga site, and I tried the palming exercise as well as the others. I really like!!

    Healthy, clear, strong eyesight is really important to everyone, for many different reasons. Knowing there are exercises to help our eyes stay healthy is awesome to me. I’ll try to add these into my daily routine!! Thanks so much for sharing, Britt!!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Midday is the worst for me. I was so good about taking walks, but once winter hit, I started staying chained to my desk more. So glad you guys are all finding the eye palming video useful! My coworkers thought it was a little nuts when I showed it to them, but I suppose you all were better prepared for what was coming in the blog post. 😉

  14. Browsing the Atlas says:

    I definitely want to try eye-palming. Sounds like a simple technique that could be very relaxing.
    I have a smartphone, but I don’t carry it with me. I only watch a few TV shows a week, though I do love to relax with a movie. My Fitbit helps me get up and move around at work, so I get away from that screen when I can. But you’re right: in today’s world, everything seems to involve some kind of screen.

    Here’s my suggestion: put down the Kindle and pick up a book! 🙂 Oh, how I love paper…

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Eye palming is very easy, quick, and it provides instant relief. I was excited to hear that several people tried it after reading this post and were happy with the effects.

      We are totally surrounded by screens! I mainly read print books now, with the occasional kindle for indies who are not in print. I’m a regular at the library. 😉

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