5 ways to stay healthy during virtual activities

by Daniel Alexander

Have you stopped to think that you’re spending too much time in front of screens nowadays? The COVID-19 pandemic forced so many of us to stay isolated at home in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. It also made us switch from our regular interaction in the real world to virtual space–although, frankly, the internet of things had already dominated our lives. 

Virtual service-learning program at Amizade
Screenshot of Amizade’s virtual service-learning with students from the University of Michigan

At Amizade, we’re in the same boat. As we continue practicing physical distancing and travel is on pause, we’re running virtual service-learning programs with our community partners and education partners, adapting our typical activities performed on the ground to a new dynamic in virtual reality. And it’s been great to continue the journey in this format.

In 2018, a study made by OnePoll on behalf of contact lens manufacturers found that in the US, a user would spend, on average, six hours and 43 minutes a day in front of a screen. In March this year, Nielsen, another research provider, reported that this number increased severely to 13 hours, largely due to home office work and online classes. 

With so many hours in front of screens because of work and classes, we need to take a few measures to protect our mental and physical health. Our team put together these five suggestions below. If you face hours of screen time, check it out. 

1. Stretch and keep a good posture.
It is super important to find yourself comfortable and in the right position while working or watching classes in front of a screen. Being in the wrong posture might add a lot of pressure to your back or neck, resulting in low to high-intensity pain. 

2. Save some time for outdoor activities.
Instead of starting your day right away in front of a screen, go for a 15-minute walk in your neighborhood. That will break your routine and will help improve your health in the long run. 

3. Keep yourself hydrated and eat well.
There are multiple benefits to keep your body hydrated. It improves blood circulation, keeps your body cool, helps muscles and joints work better, among other perks. Eating fruits instead of high-carb food keeps your body light and helps avoid some diseases.  

4. Take a 10-minute break every hour.
After a long class, your eyes can benefit from a 10-minute break before jumping into another activity. You can also combine stretching and light exercise to re-energize your body for the next hour in front of a screen.

5. Blink more.
You probably notice that your eyes are dry after hours staring at your screen. Blinking helps clean your eye’s surface and wash it out, bringing oxygen and nutrients. Remember to blink more when immersed in long online activities. 

These five suggestions should help you take the stress off your shoulders during these bizarre pandemic times. Also, take advantage of weekends to let go of your devices and (safely) spend some time with family and friends if you can, to re-energize and be ready for another week of classes or work. Remember that once, the world existed without the internet and life seemed to be healthier than it is now. Then, when you’re feeling ready to take on the internet again, Amizade’s virtual service-learning programs are here for you to explore!

* Photo highlighted in this article by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels