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HEALTHY COMPUTING EMAIL TIP 554: EYE-NECK RELAXATION

Did you know that when you sit still and look around with your eyes that you are moving muscles in the back of your neck? Your eyes guide your neck to move in the direction of visual focus. Using your eyes throughout the day without taking large movement breaks may slowly increase neck and shoulder tension as well as eye irritation. Notice how your neck tightens and releases when you practice eye-neck relaxation.

Did you know that when you sit still and look around with your eyes that you are moving muscles in the back of your neck? Your eyes guide your neck to move in the direction of visual focus. Using your eyes throughout the day without taking large movement breaks may slowly increase neck and shoulder tension as well as eye irritation. Notice how your neck tightens and releases when you practice EYE-NECK RELAXATION.

How to Practice Eye-Neck Relaxation*:

Sit comfortably erect in your chair so that your head and neck are free to move. While looking straight ahead, place the tips of your ring, middle and index fingers of both hands on the back of your neck on each side of your spine, with the ring finger just below the base of your skull. Let your fingers relax so that they can gently sense the movement of the muscles.

While facing forward, move only your eyes to look to the extreme right and then, to the extreme left. Continue looking from side to side a few times, keeping your head still. As your eyes move, feel with your fingers the movement of your neck muscles. Most likely you can feel the slight tightening and relaxation of these muscles as your eyes shift back and forth.

While you did this exercise, were you breathing? If you held your breath, repeat the above while breathing diaphragmatically.

Use the above awareness exercise to remind yourself that neck tension and breath holding tend to occur concurrently while looking at the monitor: Waiting with bated breath!

Take periodic vision breaks to reduce your neck and shoulder tension. Practice some of the following during your workday:

  • Relaxed blinking. Allow your eyelids to drop down and softly close your eyes every minute or so (e.g., while waiting for the computer, at the end of a column of numbers, while talking on the phone, etc.)

  • Drop you hands to your lap and gently shrug your shoulders or wiggle your head during a micro-break.

  • Slowly turn your head from side to side while keeping your eyes soft and feeling a softness in the muscles in the back of your head.
  • Breathe diaphragmatically, feeling heavier (like a sleeping pet or baby) for three or four breaths every 15 minutes.

*We thank Kees Lanser for teaching how to sense the neck tension while looking.

 

The Institute for Holistic Healing Studies and Human Resources sponsor the distribution of Healthy Computing Email Tips. Copyright 2009 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney. Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written consent of the copyright holders.
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