14 February 2019

Two wellness checklists for daily computer users

Do you know how to position your computer monitor to help prevent eye strain? Do you know how to set up your workstation to reduce strain on your body? Do you know how often sedentary workers should take a quick break in order to stand, walk or stretch, and encourage proper circulation?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions — and many daily computer users don’t — then the following two checklists could literally save you from developing aches and pains that could get in the way of your performance or even your career.

Preventing eyestrain

If you suffer from blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain at the end of the workday, then the chances are that you’re suffering from eyestrain. Use the following checklist to prevent this:

  • Position your computer correctly. The screen should be between 20 and 28 inches from your eyes with the center of the screen approximately 4.5 inches below your eyes.
  • Keep the brightness of the display aligned with your surroundings. The screen should not be the brightest thing in the room, nor the darkest. If you look at a white background on your computer screen and hold a page of white paper beside the screen, the brightness should be more or less the same.
  • Avoid glare on the screen. Position the screen so that you don’t have any glare from windows, overhead lights or desk lamps.
  • Blink frequently. Many people develop dry eyes when using a computer because they blink less often than normal. Remind yourself to blink frequently in order to keep your eyes moist.
  • Take breaks from the screen. The American Optometric Association recommends keeping the 20-20 rule in mind: For every 20 minutes you work at the computer, focus on something in the distance for 20 seconds so your eyes can refocus. In addition, if you’ve been at the computer for two hours, take a break for 15 minutes.
Reducing strain on your body

There are many things about working at the computer all day that can place strain on your body. Unfortunately, in the long run, some can cause you to develop musculoskeletal disorders such as repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) or back problems. Use this checklist to reduce strain on your body:

  • Maintain a neutral position when sitting or standing at the computer. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration provides guidance on how to maintain a neutral position when sitting upright or standing, as well as when in a declined or reclined sitting position.
  • Don’t use too much force when typing. This can lead to excessive wear and tear on your hands and wrists.
  • Take frequent, short breaks. To improve circulation, take a two-minute break to stretch and walk around every 20 minutes. If this isn’t possible, take a five-minute break every hour.
  • When working late, reduce the blue light on your display. The blue light emitted from your screen can have a negative impact on your sleep. In the System Preferences or Control Panel of your computer, choose a “reduced blue light” setting to ensure your sleep pattern isn’t disrupted.

Now it’s up to you to include wellness in your daily work habits. Remember that the more you incorporate these pointers into your regular routine, the more likely you’ll avoid discomfort and instead nurture your happiness, health, and productivity.