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The process of learning has changed for many from 2020 to now. Both students and teachers alike have had to adapt to a completely new form of online education. Although both parties were used to using their computers as a learning resource before 2020, they didn’t solely rely on them until now. Due to social distancing guidelines as a result of the pandemic, most students are taking all of their classes online or are in hybrid learning environments. Virtual learning, along with completing assignments, studying, and grading, can take a toll on students’ and teachers’ mental and eye health. Constant engagement with digital screens can cause virtual learners and instructors to feel fatigued, strained, and lethargic

It’s important that students and teachers take advantage of strategic study breaks throughout their week to avoid the negative effects that digital screens and sedentary lifestyles can have on them.

Easy Study Break Ideas:

Get Up and Move

If you’re a student or teacher who has been using digital devices more than usual, one study break idea is to get moving. Many people get so caught up in their daily tasks that they don’t realize they have been sitting at their computer for hours on end. You may find yourself becoming consistently sedentary while virtual learning. And, this lack of movement can have greater effects on you than you may realize.

Sedentary lifestyles put you at risk of many diseases or complications that can affect your health. A 2010 study found that inactivity and sitting for longer than four hours per day greatly increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and a number of other obesity-related conditions. To keep yourself from becoming inactive during this time, you will have to make a conscious effort to stand up and move while virtual learning. You can try using a fitness tracker, like the Garmin Vívosmart 4, which can monitor your heart rate, stress levels, and movement all at once. It also offers a move bar that sends vibration alerts to remind you when it’s time to get up and move and an activity timer for you to track the distance and duration—whether it’s a daily walk or run.

Using a device like this to keep track of your activity can help you be more conscious of your daily movement. This will provide you with many health benefits like increased strength, lung capacity, cognitive function, immune health, and weight loss. All these benefits can help you feel more energetic, stimulated, and focused when participating in virtual learning activities.

Give Your Eyes and Mind a Break

When engaging with digital screens more frequently, you may begin to experience regular eye strain or headaches. A recent study by The Vision Council reported that 59% of people who regularly use computers and digital devices experience digital eye strain, which can lead to other problems like burnout and Zoom fatigue. Further symptoms of digital eye strain include eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eyes, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching, and redness.

The most effective ways to reduce your risk of digital eye strain and its symptoms include:

Getting a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Receiving an eye exam each year will help you maintain healthy vision in the future. During these exams, inform your doctor of your increased use of digital devices for virtual learning and if you are experiencing any discomfort. They will be able to determine if you have any underlying eye health issues, need to take more frequent breaks from devices, simply need hydrating eye drops, or even an updated eyeglasses prescription. Don’t put off your eye appointments; the sooner you deal with an issue, the sooner your doctor can correct it.

Updating your Eyeglasses Prescription

If you wear glasses regularly and are experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain, you should make sure your eyeglasses prescription is up-to-date. If your prescription is too strong or too weak, it can contribute to, or be mistaken for, similar symptoms to those of digital eye strain. An inaccurate prescription can cause lack of focus, poor vision, eye strain, headaches, and dizziness, which can interfere with virtual learning. Consider buying a new pair of eyeglasses if your current pair is out-of-date or if you find yourself getting more frequent headaches or blurry vision. The right frames and lenses can offer you better visual health, clarity, and relief so that you can enjoy an improved quality of life and mental and physical comfort. A new pair of glasses can relieve many of the symptoms you may be experiencing while using your computer for distance learning and help you better focus throughout the day.

Reducing Glare on your Screen

During the day, you may be working in different locations with different lighting and surfaces surrounding you. These surfaces can cause light to reflect and create a glare on your digital screen, which can contribute to digital eye strain. If you experience regular glare at your designated workstation due to lighting or surrounding surfaces, consider installing an anti-glare screen on your display to minimize the amount of light that’s reflecting from your screen to your eyes. This will also be especially helpful to those who wear glasses because it’s common for eyeglass lenses to reflect light and cause glare.
By properly performing these tasks, you will be able to engage with your computer for virtual learning without experiencing the negative side effects of digital eye strain.

The educational system has changed a lot since the beginning of 2020. Whether you were a full-time virtual student or teacher before or have just started this past year, take the time to conduct self-check-ins. Engaging with screens can be very draining and distracting, which can ultimately lead to inactivity or digital eye strain. If you get up and move frequently you can stay energized while distance learning, and if you protect your eyes and mind, you can avoid the negative effects that screens can have on you over time.

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