Exercises like yoga or weightlifting teach us the different ways in which muscles work and recover - but our body is full of hundreds of muscles, some of which are very small. Many people won't know that just like hamstrings, abs, or biceps, the small collection of muscles around the eyes function the same way. Tight hamstrings can be stretched to relieve pain and promote blood circulation and recovery, and so tight eyes need a similar treatment.
If you are experiencing discomfort in your eyes, there are simple actions like yawning, blinking, and exposing your eyes to natural light which you can do to keep your eyes in good shape and prevent strain during the workday.
Yawning and blinking create moisture and keep your eyes lubricated while natural light exposes your eyes to relaxing colour spectrums and offers a break from the stress of the blue light field experienced when we look at screens.
If these don't provide enough relief, you can try three common ocular stretches to help relieve the tension from working on a computer screen for long periods.
1) Directional eye stretch. Without moving your head, start by looking up, down, left, and right, fixing your eyes in that position for the duration of a breath. Inhale look up, exhale look down, etc.
2) Focusing stretch. The human eye has four fields of vision, from our peripheral to our most forward-focused point. Keep your eyes fixed in one direction, cycle through focusing on each field of vision for the duration of a breath. Afterwards, adjust the focus of your eyes to a point far in the distance back to something close to your face - and repeat.
3) Stretching around the eyes. This is where most of the tension and cramps in achy eyes are stored. Closing your eyes, take the pads of your fingers and gently massage the areas below your eyes, just between your eyebrows and eyelids, and your temples.
4) Palming. Palming acts a little like cupping in that you're putting a little pressure via suction onto your eye sockets. To do so, place your elbows on your desk and cup your hands over your eyes, before gently leaning forward. Breathe slowly and hold for 30-40 seconds.
If your eyes are crying out for a bit of eyeball yoga - listen to them! You only get one pair, and these stretches will help you keep them in shape as long as nature allows.
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