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Ditch Computer Eye Strain With These 8 Free Apps

Ditch Computer Eye Strain With These 8 Free Apps

Computer eye strain is an unfortunately common part of 21st-century life that can do long-term damage to your vision, not to mention causing sore eyes and headaches in the short term. Recent studies have shown the bluish glow of our screens also reduces the body’s melatonin levels that we need to naturally sleep, causing people to stay up later and have more difficulty falling asleep when they do go to bed.

Doctors often recommend taking breaks from looking at your screen to prevent eye strain, but not everyone is so good at sticking to schedules on their own. Here are eight free web or mobile apps to help keep your eyes healthy and pain-free!

1. Awareness (Mac, Windows)

awareness
    image source: Cult of Mac

    Awareness is a free app for Mac and Windows that gets you to take regular breaks without getting in the way. It’s super inconspicuous as far as these apps go; it sits on your menu bar while you go about your business, quietly counting the minutes until your next small break. You set the time limit for chunks of uninterrupted work yourself, as well as how long your breaks are. Once you’ve been at the computer for your set amount of minutes, Awareness plays the steady tone of a Tibetan singing bowl to let you know it’s time for a break. And it actually makes sure you take that break by monitoring your app/browser usage for those minutes, but doesn’t lock you out. This is probably the simplest, easiest app to use if you’re looking for break reminders that get you to actually do them without being intrusive.

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    2. F.lux (Mac, Windows, Linux, and iPhone)

    flux2
      image source: AddictiveTips

      I installed this app a couple years ago on my laptop and have used it ever since. F.lux adjusts the glow of your monitor based on the time of day; not just brightness, but tint as well. Without that glaring blue glow, I actually have to go to sleep at a reasonable hour because I get sleepy. Which, ya know, is supposed to happen! F.lux has an incredibly detailed list of research on this issue here. It’s an easy install and it runs on a bunch of operating systems. This is probably my #1 recommendation from this list.

      3. ProtectYourVision (Chrome, Firefox, Safari app)

        One of the most popular apps out there is ProtectYourVision. You can customize its break plan, though the default “20-20-20” plan is a commonly used technique with many supporters. ProtectYourVision beeps when it’s time for your break, and temporarily blacks out your screen for those few minutes. So, it’s a little disruptive in that way, but you can choose not to take a break when prompted, meaning the screen won’t black out until you say you’re on your break. If you really need to, you can override the break-time blackout as well. Plus, the app gives you suggestions for eye exercises to do during your break, and it has an adorable robot mascot.

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        4. Twilight (Android)

        twilight

          Since F.lux has a version for iOS but not Android, I found this app that has largely positive reviews from its users. Twilight also operates based on research done on the effects of blue-tinted light on the circadian rhythm and overall quality of sleep. The developers also cited special interest in research showing people who used a tablet or smartphone for a couple hours before bed fell asleep about an hour later than those who did not. So if you have a mobile device that runs on Android and want to employ this technology to protect your eyes and stop having trouble getting properly sleepy, get Twilight.

          5. Time Out (Mac)

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          timeout

            Time Out is exclusive to Mac and is a good app for those who aren’t sure how to space out their breaks. It gives you a set break plan that involves 50 minute chunks of working with 10 minute breaks, as well as “micro” breaks throughout your work time, 10 seconds every 10 minutes. (They can still be customized, however.) The micro breaks are helpful for those who find themselves unintentionally tensing up as they work, giving you a brief but consistent reminder to relax your muscles and adjust your posture. If you only want one kind of break, you can disable either of them. The breaks will fade your screen to let you know it’s time, and then fade back in when the break is over.

            6. eyeCare (Chrome app)

            eyes

              If you like your apps connected to your browser for a little extra convenience, eyeCare is a Chrome extension to help remind you to take those eye-resting breaks. Like ProtectYourVision, this app recommends the 20-20-20 plan, but you can of course customize your schedule. Regularly schedule breaks for your eyes is the most frequently recommended method for preventing eye strain. The extension also gives you instructions for eye exercises. It’s a one-click install, and it has a 4.5/5 star review by users.

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              7. Nocturne (Mac)

              nocturne

                This is another Mac-only app with a unique approach. Nocturne is an older display-altering app to reduce eye strain, but it does so by giving you options to change your display via using a monochrome scheme as pictured above, inverting colors, disabling shadow effects, and adjusting tints. You can adjust screen brightness as well. Again, it’s a somewhat dated app, but it is free and offers a unique approach to reducing eye strain at night.

                8. Eye Pro (Windows)

                  Eye Pro is a Windows app that seeks to reduce eye strain but also focuses on keeping your eyes properly moisturized. Not satisfied with only preventing eye strain, the developers designed the app to get you to blink more while at the computer. Research shows that our blink rate tends to decrease significantly when we use a computer. Eye Pro displays occasional notices encouraging you to rest your eyes and blink to restore natural moisture. There are short and long breaks, which you can skip if you need to, and plenty of tips for eye exercises and overall protection.

                  Featured photo credit: working in the dark/George Whitaker via flic.kr

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                  Last Updated on January 17, 2019

                  8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                  8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                  In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

                  Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

                  Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

                  Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

                  Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

                  The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

                  There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

                  How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

                  According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

                  Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

                  Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

                  The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

                  Listen carefully:

                  We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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                  The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

                  Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

                  8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

                  There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

                  Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

                  1. Pray Daily

                  You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

                  When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

                  Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

                  Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

                  2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

                  A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

                  By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

                  Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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                  If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

                  This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

                  How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

                  3. Smile Often

                  Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

                  Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

                  Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

                  The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

                  4. Organize Your Working Desk

                  A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

                  When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

                  Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

                  Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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                  5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

                  I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

                  Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

                  What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

                  6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

                  God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

                  I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

                  I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

                  7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

                  You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

                  How do you do that? This is my formula:

                  First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

                  If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

                  If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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                  If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

                  Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

                  8. Go Exercise

                  Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

                  The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

                  You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

                  12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

                  The Bottom Line

                  It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

                  It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

                  Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

                  More Resources About Mindfulness

                  Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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