The Importance Of Taking Breaks (A Semi-Cautionary Tale)

For the past couple of weeks, my right eye has been acting strange — not Jessica-Alba-horror-movie-about-botched-eye-surgery strange — what I mean is, it’s been twitching. And feeling slightly itchy. It got to the point where the area around my eye hurt to touch — my temple, my cheekbone, even down into my neck (although this part is most likely attributed to bad posture, something of which I have been guilty for years).

Suffice it to say that the pain was bad enough that I scheduled an appointment with an eye doctor.

The appointment was routine — I was told to look at rows of letters first with one eye, then the other. Only I couldn’t read as far down as I used to, which frightened me. I had always been told I had at least 20-20 vision during physicals with my regular doctor. I’ve always loved activities that require being able to see clearly — reading, beach-combing, jigsaw-puzzles, drawing, etc. So why was I suddenly having trouble reading a line of letters?

The doctor explained that it was most likely eye strain, and that I would need to wear glasses at work — nothing fancy, just your typical drug store variety of reading glasses — and most importantly, I would need to “take more breaks.”

One pair of CVS-brand reading glasses and a good deal of thinking later, I realized he was right. I do need to take more breaks. I can’t continue to work through the pain. My mother put it into perspective the first time I complained about my eye — “If you were training for a race and something hurt, you wouldn’t keep running through the pain. You’d get it looked at before it turned into something worse.”

I work long hours during the day, and then I continue those hours after work with freelance writing, blogging and other miscellaneous internet activities (Netflix, YouTube and iMDb come to mind). It wasn’t until this appointment that I realized this type of schedule is doing no favors to my eye sight, and in turn my mental state.

So, I do as my doctor instructed: I take breaks. I have a timer set on my work computer to tell me when to look away from the screen for a moment, or to get up and stretch. It’s fun to see how much work I can get done before the timer goes off.  I try to go for a walk outside during my lunch break, and drink more water during the day. I make sure that I give myself some time in between work and my other online tasks to do offline things that I enjoy — cooking, running, heck, even cleaning or finishing errands.

It’s too soon to tell if this will alleviate all of my eye troubles (as of now, that pesky right eye still likes to twitch every once in a while), but it’s a start. So, if you’ve made it to the end of this post, do yourself (and your eyes) a favor: take a quick break.

 Noelle is an email copywriter (yes, that is a thing) and occasional freelance writer. When she’s not typing or running, she can be found eating, sleeping, quoting a movie, or curled up in an easy chair with her nose stuck in a book. Sometimes she tweets too.

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