How to Take Effective Screen Breaks

It’s that time of year where work is full-on. Coursework deadlines mean you’re hunched over your computer all day, peering at a screen without realising how much squinting (and how little blinking) you’re doing. This year in particular has seen us all increase our screen time. You might spend the day looking at your laptop for work, socialising is now a Netflix party or a FaceTime with friends, and relaxation time is scrolling through your phone on TikTok (don’t feel bad, we’re all doing it).

It’s all very well for people to tell you to put your laptop away two hours before bedtime or put the phone away when relaxing, but that isn’t always feasible. So, here are a few tips to give your eyes, your head, and your mind a rest from the screen.

First up is the 20-20-20 rule. This one is simple, quick, and effective as a mini screen break. The way it works is as follows: you look at the screen for 20 minutes doing whatever you need to do. Then, after 20 minutes is up, you look at something 20 metres away for 20 seconds. This helps your eyes to refocus and relax a little. The 20 metres doesn’t have to be exact, just try looking outside and pick something to focus on, for example a tree. Repeat this every 20 minutes until you have stopped staring at the screen. I find this tip helpful as it gives my eyes a rest, but also my mind and body. It is perfect for when you have to be at the screen for a long period of time but don’t want to strain your eyes.

This second tip might seem obvious, but it is so important: get some fresh air. Staying in the house for a long period of time can often lead to us sitting down at screens all day. It doesn’t need to be for very long, or very far, but a walk can really help you relax after staring at a screen. In a similar vein to the 20-20-20 rule, when on walks, try to focus your eyes on distant objects. Instead of looking at the ground in front of you, look at faraway views such as buildings or trees. This will help your eyes to refocus and rest, plus you can appreciate your surroundings!

Something which I find works as a screen break but also as a form of relaxation is placing tea bags on your eyes. Choose a simple black tea and steep them in warm water. Squeeze the excess water from them once they have brewed and make sure they cool down enough to place them on your eyes. Lie down and place them on your eyes for about 20 minutes. I find that this helps to hydrate eyes, as well as alleviating stress in the area. Make sure when doing this that you remove any eye makeup or contact lenses, and allow the teabags to thoroughly cool before application. Once done, hopefully you will feel rejuvenated having had a short but beneficial break from the screen!

My next tip is one which I find soothes the body and the mind from being hunched over at the screen. Again, it is perfect for when you don’t have much time to relax but need a break. It consists of a good old-fashioned boogie. When the mood strikes, pop on one of your favourite songs (I recommend something upbeat) and just get moving in any way you like. This tip is great because you can do it for as long as you like but is also perfect for when you really only have five minutes before you have to get back to work. Have fun with it and do some crazy dancing, some stretching, or even just some walking on the spot. It will help your body feel a little more energised and your mind refreshed. Perfect for in-between classes, this is a great speedy screen break!

I hope that these tips give some inspiration on how to take effective time away from the screen, as well as providing you with some relaxation ideas. They are all perfect for when putting the screens away for good just isn’t possible, but you need a short rest. Listen to your body and use these whenever the need arises, and then you can get back to that essay, the Netflix party, or scrolling through TikTok.