We’ve come a long way from the hunter-gatherer tribes that were responsible for stressful, demanding tasks for nearly all our waking hours. While plenty of manual labor jobs still exist (and are dealing with labor shortages), many of us are enjoying much better conditions.
We get to sit and complete tasks on a computer or tablet most of the day, rarely interacting with others and remaining in a (mostly) relaxed position.
Still, these conditions present their own unique challenges and difficulties. If you stare at a screen all day, you may feel fatigued, distant, and strained by the end of the day.
What are the best ways to decompress from this day-long activity?
Why Screens Are Bad for Your Health
Why are digital screens so bad for your health and wellbeing?
There are a few problems to consider. First, staring at the screen causes eye strain, which in sufficiently high quantities can cause the onset of computer vision syndrome. For some people, this results in painful headaches, eye strain, and other physical symptoms.
Second, many digital screens emit primarily blue light, which can interfere with our natural sleep processes and make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
If you spend too much time in front of the computer, it can also negatively affect your ability to practice other important health habits. For example, if you’re always sitting while working on a computer, your sedentary lifestyle can set you up for a lifetime of health problems.
The Best Ways to Decompress After Staring at a Screen All Day
So what are the best ways to decompress after staring at a screen all day?
Unfortunately, many people do the worst thing possible. When they shut down their computer for the day, they simply turned to another screen, watching television, texting friends on a phone, or playing a game on a tablet.
These activities are much better choices for relieving your stress and resting your eyes:
- Sit around a fire. Whether you enjoy the comforts of an indoor fireplace or some fresh air with an outdoor fire pit, sitting around the fire can be relaxing and stimulating at the same time. Join together with friends or family members and consider roasting marshmallows or telling stories together. Whatever activities you choose to do, you’ll enjoy the soft crackle and orange glow of a natural flame.
- Read a book. If your job involves lots of reading and writing, this idea may not work for you. Otherwise, consider reading a real, physically printed book. Reading comprehension is higher for physical books than digital screens, so once you find a book you truly enjoy, you can fully immerse yourself in it. Whether you’re interested in the latest sci-fi adventure or a simple biography of a person you love, you’ll get value in this solitary experience.
- Go for a walk. Counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle by getting more exercise. One of the best options is walking, since you don’t need a gym membership or any fancy equipment to do it. Even if you’re significantly out of shape, you should be able to handle walking – and it’s a great excuse to get outdoors and breathe some fresh air.
- Go bird watching. Computer vision syndrome sets in because our eyes are forced to strain themselves when looking at a screen. The best way to fight against this is to allow your eyes to relax by staring at things in the distance. You can accomplish this and entertain yourself at the same time by going bird watching.
- Physically journal. Keeping a journal is good for your mental health, as it allows you to reflect on the day’s events and consider your thoughts, feelings, and actions in a more objective way. While many people journal on a computer these days, it’s better for your eyes if you use a physical journal and write the old-fashioned way.
- Take a nap. There’s mixed evidence on how long the optimal nap is, but we know that naps are beneficial, especially if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation. There’s no shame in taking a quick nap at the end of a long workday.
- Enjoy a warm bath (with music). Draw yourself a warm bath and relax with some nice music. When you close your eyes, you’ll feel the strain melt away.
- Cook a nice meal. If you like cooking, practice at the end of the day! It’s a relaxing activity, and at the end, you’ll have a balanced, delicious meal to eat.
There are countless ways to decompress at the end of a long workday, and all of them are worth considering as long as they get you out of the digital world. Try a variety of new and inspiring options until you find a combination that suits you best.