For me, work used to be teaching in cozy studio spaces with soft lighting, space to move, and lingering aromas of incense. Pure pleasure for the senses. When the global pandemic hit, work became teaching from home where I couldn’t create that same studio experience for myself, or my students. Other than the obvious sound and lighting challenges, I started noticing tension headaches in the middle of my forehead and eye fatigue from focusing my eyes too closely on the screen. I also started noticing difficulty lifting my eyes to take in my full surroundings after spending so much time looking down at the computer. Whether you’ve always worked on a computer, or like me, now find yourself adapting to a virtual workspace, you may have noticed similar discomfort.
Luckily, over the past several months I have found ways to allow myself, and especially my eyes, find rest.
Take frequent breaks from the screen. Walk away, go outside, change your surroundings. Let your eyes adjust to natural life in a normal perspective… Just to be clear, taking a break from your work screen to scroll Instagram on your phone screen does not count!
Eye Asana, also known as eye yoga. Close your eyes and take a few natural breaths while your eyes adjust to the shadow of your eyelids. Keeping your eyes closed, gently move your eyes up and down vertically, within a comfortable range of motion. Then try right and left, horizontally. Be slow and intuitive. Try to move your eyes without scrunching your forehead. If you feel a headache or any discomfort, stop and let your eyes rest in stillness. (If you have vertigo, please do not give this one a try!
Use an eye pillow. This has become my favorite way to rest my eyes and has been beneficial in more ways than one. Read more about it in my follow-up post How to Make the Most of your Eye Pillow
While headaches and eye fatigue are draining, they are also a reminder that we are complex human beings with limits that need to be respected and cared for. The discomfort we feel is the body telling us that we’ve pushed it past it’s limit and we that we need to pause and care for it. We understand when our legs are sore, or our backs ache. The eyes are no different! Now please excuse me while I go rest my own eyes…