Screen Fatigue: Practical Solutions to an Irritating Problem By Kerri Garbis, CEO Ovation
In the past year, many aspects of our lives have changed due to the pandemic’s demands. And while many people have used trial and error to make adjustments, others might be lagging. One of these forced changes people are dealing with is online, remote communication. And with this new way of meeting with teams, customers, and clients, a new concern has emerged—screen fatigue.
Screen fatigue is a group of disorders that develops from moving your eyes in a repetitive motion. These unnatural motions are mainly caused by being on a computer screen. We now understand that the screen forces your eyes to refocus continually, causing eye strain and an array of other irritating physiological symptoms such as headache, itchy eyes, neck and back strain, difficulty sleeping, and more. It’s safe to say, all of this additional screen time is affecting our health.
The following are some practical solutions to reduce screen fatigue.
Eliminate non-essential screens
This solution is probably overly simplistic but necessary. With added screen time dictated by work responsibilities, you must be choosy elsewhere. Turn off the television, step away from the tablets, and resist the temptation to pull out that smartphone and mindlessly scroll. Eliminating some of the screen time you already use will offset the additional time you are exposed for work. This minor alteration can make a big difference, keeping your system from going on overload.
Turn off your self-view
We’ve all gotten over the shock of seeing ourselves on screen and experiencing what others view when communicating with us. And now that we understand we can’t change it, and people have been ‘okay’ with this view for quite some time, we should turn off the distractions the self-view option creates.
When you have the self-view option turned on, your eyes and brain work exponentially harder to process what’s going on. No matter how hard you try to focus, your brain is combating unnatural distractions. In addition to worrying about how you look, your expressions, and getting your point across, your brain is already trying to process seeing so many faces at one time. To better deal with the added faces, take yours out of the equation. This simple action eliminates distractions and gives your brain a much-needed break.
Give your attention to the camera, not the audience
Yes, all of those added faces on the screen also make your eyes and brain scramble to keep up. In face-to-face communication, even if you are in a room with many people, you don’t see all of them at one time the way you do in an online meeting. This expenditure of excessive energy takes its toll and is a chief contributor to screen fatigue.
The best way to eliminate these excessive stressors is to train yourself to look at the camera, not the audience. Unlike actual face-to-face communication, conversing through a laptop or monitor does not require you to look at people’s eyes to be attentive. On a screen, focusing on the camera is the equivalent of maintaining eye contact. By looking at the camera, you are focused and look good to the others. You are also saving your eyes and brain from experiencing more overload.
Blue light glasses
Blue-light glasses act as a protective barrier between your eyes and your screen. This barrier blocks the blue light that significantly contributes to screen fatigue symptoms you might be experiencing, such as dry, itchy, irritated eyes.
However, probably even more detrimental to your daily performance and health is blue light’s sleep sabotaging aspect. This harmful light disturbs your sleep patterns, keeping you from having restful, rejuvenating sleep. And we all know how even just one night of poor sleep affects our daily functions. Excessive blue light could be responsible for disrupting your entire sleep schedule, making every night a contributor to your sleep deficit.
Blue light lenses can be added to prescription glasses or purchased as separate pairs. Blue light glasses come in many fashionable styles and can be a lifesaver for people who experience screen fatigue. Most people can find these glasses online for a reasonable price of $10 to $20.
Try using more hand gestures
One reason some people experience screen fatigue is from being overly expressive. For some reason, most people exaggerate their facial expressions while conversing online. You wouldn’t think this habit would cause excessive fatigue, but it can take a toll over time, especially when combined with the other fatigue-contributors mentioned above.
Instead of contorting your facial muscles to give feedback, try keeping your response simpler with a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ signal. This way, the presenter receives necessary input, and you are not exhausting your facial muscles.
Give these a try!
If you are experiencing screen fatigue, you can identify with the symptoms and conditions above. The solutions presented are practical and worth a try.
The last year has been challenging for many people. At this point, you should consider trying any way you can to eliminate stressors and discomfort. It seems online visual communications have taken root. Chances are technology will improve this venue considerably as people continue to embrace it. Until then, we must use solutions such as the ones mentioned above to save our eyes and brain from harmful, excessive screen fatigue.
Kerri Garbis is the Founder and CEO of Ovation and has trained hundreds of business professionals internationally throughout her career as a professional actress, entrepreneur, and speaking coach. She is a Professional Speech Writer certified by the Professional Speechwriters Association, a Business Etiquette Expert, certified by The Emily Post Institute, and an Emotional Intelligence Expert, certified by The Hay Group. Her dedication to dynamic, user-tailored content has helped ensure that every Ovation consultant delivers the highest level of client-focused professional training. Visit www.getovation.com today to learn more