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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 September 18, 2020

                  7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                  7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                  Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

                  Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

                  1. Exercise Daily

                  It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

                  If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

                  Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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                  If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

                  2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

                  Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

                  One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

                  This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

                  3. Acknowledge Your Limits

                  Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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                  Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

                  Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

                  4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

                  Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

                  The basic nutritional advice includes:

                  • Eat unprocessed foods
                  • Eat more veggies
                  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
                  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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                  Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

                    5. Watch Out for Travel

                    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

                    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

                    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

                    6. Start Slow

                    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

                    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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                    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

                    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

                    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

                    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

                    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

                    Final Thoughts

                    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

                    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

                    More Tips on Getting in Shape

                    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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