Tips for Relaxing the Eyes/Easing Headaches
Common in computer workers is eye strain. Staring at a computer screen for long periods of time is extremely tiring on the eyes.
Also, long hours in front of the monitor may narrow your visual field and cause you to block out the world around you. It will dampen your senses as well as your connection to the outside world. As your visual field narrows, so too may your overall awareness.
Hence, the following simple eye exercise can help to open and widen your visual peripheral field. As your peripheral field widens and softens so too may the rest of you.
Eye exercise to open up your visual field
Close your eyes. Very gently turn your head to the right, and then to the left, staying solely in your range of comfort and ease. Notice how far your head rotates in each direction and if there is a difference between the two sides. Which side does your head turn easier to? Also, notice which direction your eyes naturally veer with your eyes closed.
For this exercise, it’s crucial that you move your eyes extremely slowly and smoothly, avoiding any jerky movements of the eye.
Keeping your eyes closed, imagine your eyes are a beach ball floating on the horizon of an ocean. While keeping your head still, float this beach ball to the upper left hand corner of your visual field. Then smoothly float it down to the lower left visual field. Continue this 3 movement times.
If you are right hand or eye dominant, chances are it may be more jerky and have a smaller range on this side.
If you notice any jerky or uneven eye movements, slow it down and see if you could iron these movements out. Make it smooth and straight. Float your eyes back and forth from the upper left corner to the lower left corner 3 times, then return the ball back to the center and take a brief rest.
At this point it is interesting to retest the head rotation and see if its becoming easier to rotate your head to the left.
If you find you are getting a headache from this exercise or your headache is getting worse, it may mean that you are likely using too much muscle effort and your muscles are having a difficult time breaking up the coordination patterns of these muscles. Take a break from it and come back to it at a latter time. Be sure you’re not over efforting or halting your breath.
Otherwise, go ahead and perform this same exercise on the right side.
Imagine floating the beach ball up to the upper right hand quadrant of your visual field, then down to the lower right visual quadrant. Perform this sequence three more times, going extremely slow and smooth. Perform it until the movement becomes as smooth as if you were spreading frosting on a cake.
Then go ahead and float the beach ball (your eyes) into a full and complete square, through all 4 corners of your visual peripheral field.
Upper right, lower right, lower left, upper left etc.
Perform it 3 times in this direction.
Reverse the direction three times. See if you can make the square a little bigger.
Then open your eyes and notice the shift in your peripheral vision. How much more open and expansive it is. How about the position of your shoulders? Notice if the rest of you feels more open and expansive as well.
As you begin to see with a broader softer focus, you may find the changes have rippling effects throughout other parts of your life.
- Massaging around your temples can be useful to ease ocular muscular tension. Or you can try rubbing your palms together quickly to create friction and heat, then resting them over your eyes for several moments to allow your eyes to relax with the darkness and warmth. This is called “palming.” Giving yourself an eye, temple, or forehead massage is helpful as well.
- The 20/20 rule-refocus your eyes on an object 20 feet away (approximately) every 20 minutes. This allows the muscles which are being overused (our near-sighted muscles) and the bands which holds the eyeball in the socket to relax.
- Blinking frequently is recommended to provide additional lubrication to your eyes (as we blink less frequently when gazing for periods of time at a monitor screen).
- Be sure the contrast of the monitor screen is as bright if not brighter than the lighting behind it.
If you tend to get eye strain, perform any of these eye exercises before the eye strain begins.
Please see Shara’s book, A Quick Guide to Easing Pain in the Workplace & Beyond.