Take a Break from Straining Your Eyes

By Fathima Lye, Youth Advisory Council member & intern 

Fathima Lye is a college junior in NYC. She is an advocate for school-based health centers and works to spread awareness on youth-centric issues and doing what she can to help. She hopes to engage with health professionals and youth across the country and impact lives for the better.  

The following reflects Fathima’s lived experiences, thoughts, and opinions.

Can you believe it’s been over 7 months since COVID-19 guidelines made us stay at home, quarantine, or even isolate? 

Who would have thought that COVID-19 would have drastic limitations on the way we go about our lives. Can you believe it’s been over 7 months since COVID-19 guidelines made us stay at home, quarantine, or even isolate?! These past few months have been swept by and we are a month away from a whole new year. Like many others, I’ve been at home adapting to the “new normal.” Our eyes are glued to electronics 24/7, going to school, work, and relying on entertainment! What’s worse is that they all occur in the same space. This takes a major toll on our overall well-being. Think about how many hours a day you sit in one spot while looking at a screen. Was it a lot? Though we all know this is not good, it is a reality we all face. 

Going to classes may seem easier now that it is on a computer screen and you don’t have to commute or necessarily get ready. However, the toll it takes on your eyes is excessive. If my eyes weren’t crying for help before, they’re definitely crying now. On a typical work/school day, I’m staring at a screen for about 12 hours a day. In addition, I also watch shows and engage in social media in my free time, almost feeling trapped by the number of hours spent on displays. Of course, I take breaks here and there but it does not make up for the time I’m looking at a screen. We all know that the blue light from electronics for an excessive amount of time is unhealthy. We may experience fatigue, trouble sleeping, difficulty focusing, and sleeping because of it. Therefore, we must make an effort to stay active without straining our eyes. 

With the increased screen time, I try to get out or engage in activities that don’t require any electronic displays. I must say that it is difficult! Even if I’m done with my laptop for the day, I fall right into my phone. I also understand the struggle of not being able to go outside like we used to, but you don’t always need the outdoors to stay moving.  

Here are some tips to stay active during the pandemic: 

  • Exercising at home 
  • There are many workout videos on YouTube that you can do at home. Pick a space in your home, turn on your best playlist, and give it a go. If you have workout equipment, use them in a safe manner. Exercising does not need to be intense.  
  • Yoga/meditation. Not only are you being active, but it also decreases stress and increases relaxation, which is very much needed during these challenging times. 
  • Chores. Now this may be something most of us don’t enjoy doing, but they keep you on your feet and away from the screens. Doing the dishes or cleaning your room and giving it a total makeover can become fun. Even try cooking a new dish or baking your favorite dessert, active and rewarding! 
  • Games 
  • Puzzles and board games are great activities to stimulate your brain. Create game nights and get your family involved. A fun way to stay active and bond with family.  
  • Books 
  • Cozy up with an enjoyable book.  
  • Arts & Crafts 
  • The holiday season is approaching, create decorations yourself.  
  • Take on mini-DIY or craft projects like sewing or knitting a blanket. 
  • Put your artistic skills to the test. Take the time to draw, color, and paint. 
  • Going Outdoors (take the proper necessary precautions) 
  • Go for a walk or run at your nearest park. Enjoy nature while you can. I try to go for a walk whenever I have the time, but the NYC weather isn’t helping. 
  • Many places are back up and running such as museums, gyms, farms, & etc… If you must go, make sure to practice safe protocols.

These are just a few ways to keep yourself occupied without having the effects of blue light from electronics. Try balancing your schedule to include at least one activity a day that keeps you away from the screens. Set a routine and try to stick to it. As difficult as it may be, it’s something we all should do. I always say that your health is more important than anything else. It’s okay to take a break. Stay safe! 

Your health is more important than anything else.