The Why and How of Screen Breaks During Online Courses

A male student is participating in a class discussion online, remembering to take screen breaks throughout the day.
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Screens have been a part of our lives for longer than most of us have been alive, and while they continue to evolve, it is doubtful that humans will ever lead a screen-free existence again. We use screens for everything nowadays; what was once purely a source of entertainment has become how we communicate, work, and learn.

Although there are many benefits, too much screen time can negatively affect our physical and mental health if we aren’t careful. Those taking courses online spend a significant amount of time looking at screens during their course work, so it is essential to know when to take a break from your computer screen and what to do during that break. 

Why You Need Screen Breaks 

There are many benefits to taking breaks from screen time, and it’s good for your entire body to get up and move around.  

Screen Breaks Help Process Information 

Our brains have two modes, focused and diffused. While focused mode helps us bring that information into our brain, diffused mode helps us store it, so taking a break from any work, whether it be school or otherwise, is ultimately better for information retention.  

Increased Focus and Productivity 

Humans weren’t meant to hold our attention on one focal point for any period, so after about half an hour, everything around us becomes more interesting than the screen. A small break gives the brain a chance to reset and come back and give more focus.  

Physical Health 

Refocusing the eyes and the light produced by a computer can cause headaches, eye dryness, and muscle aches, which are painful and distracting.  

Mental Health 

Prolonged screen time can increase stress and negatively affect students’ mental health. Even a little break to decompress will go a long way to keeping students happy and engaged.  

Exercises for Screen Breaks 

The effects of long periods of screen time have been documented in the corporate world. Thus, there are plenty of screen break exercises out there to help clear the mind and reset the body. Here are a few of the easier ones that professionals swear by: 

The 20-20-20 Rule During Screen Breaks 

This is the gold standard of screen breaks and allows the eyes to take a break and reset. Every 20 minutes, you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Don’t do it from your computer screen; get up, move around, and stretch a bit for added benefit.  

Eye and Neck Rolls During Screen Breaks 

Closing your eyes and rolling them will help relax those muscles and reduce strain while simultaneously lubricating them to prevent dry eyes. In addition, rolling your neck in clockwise and counterclockwise motions will relieve tension and stress built up in the neck and shoulders while sitting.  

Palming During Screen Breaks 

A tired male student uses the palming technique during one of his screen breaks to rest his eyes.

Rub your palms together to create warmth through friction, then place your palms over your closed eyes. The heat from your palms feels good on strained eyes and will help to relax the mind and body.  

Facial Massage During Screen Breaks 

Use the tips of your fingers to massage your face in a circular motion starting with your cheeks, moving up to the bridge of your nose, and ending at your eyebrows. Next, apply light pressure to your closed eyes and rub in a circular motion. Finally, move your fingertips to your temples and apply light pressure and rub in a circular motion. You may be surprised to feel how much tension you are keeping in your face and how good this simple massage feels.  

Get Up and Move Around During Screen Breaks  

Getting up and moving around is a great screen break exercise. Even something as simple as changing the laundry quickly on a break gets your muscles moving, refocuses the eyes, and takes your mind off of class for a few minutes, which gives your brain a chance to decompress.  

Other Things You Can Do to Protect From Long Screen Times During Online Courses 

Taking screen breaks and doing some exercises is a great way to combat fatigue and boost attention. However, there are other actions you can do outside of class that will help while you are in class.  

Limit Screen Time Outside of Class 

Easier said than done, but excess screen time on top of the hours a day you are spending in class won’t help the strain on your eyes. Late-night screen usage is associated with trouble sleeping, leading to issues with concentration and focus during the day.  

Change Screen Brightness 

Light conditions are constantly changing even in the house. There are points in the day when your screen can be too bright or too dull, causing you to strain your eyes.  

Blue Blocker Lenses 

The science is still out on these. Some swear that blue blocker lenses help reduce the strain a computer puts on their eyes. You don’t have to have a prescription to get blue blocker lenses, and they come in many stylish designs.  

High Five Test 

Place your hand out in front of you like you are going to high-five your computer screen. If you can’t fully extend your arm, your screen is too close to your eyes. Thus, increasing the risk of eye strain.  

What Is the Benefit of Online Courses? 

Online courses may require you to spend more time on the computer, but they have so many benefits. You save time and money by not commuting to class. Plus, your schedule is more flexible since you can access your class from anywhere. Parents can juggle classes and home responsibilities while making it easier to advance their careers without sacrificing time with children or paying for daycare. Online courses are the perfect option for those who want to advance a career but have never tried because the idea of a classroom setting is not appealing to them.  

See What We Have to Offer 

If the idea of online courses sounds like a good fit for you, check out our list of online degrees. Before you know it, you will be on an exciting new career path. Just remember to take care of yourself during online classes by taking small breaks to rest your mind and keep your focus on your goals.  

This article was published on: 05/20/22 6:54 AM

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