From the time you wake up and check your emails and notifications on your smartphone or tablet, the long days spent in front of your computer screen, the online casino or video entertainment on your commute, to the evenings spent catching up on your favorite tv show, the average person spends as much as 12 hours a day in front of a screen.

How many hours a day do you stare at a screen?

This dramatic increase in screen time compared to as little as 30 years ago is undoubtedly affecting our physical and mental health, development, behavior, and relationships. Our brains and bodies are processing an enormous amount of data and information through televisions, smartphones, tablets, and computers on a regular basis.

It is unknown what the long-term effects of hours in front of a screen will have on our brains, but it is almost certainly changing the way we think, develop and communicate with one another on a fundamental level.

All of this consumption is wreaking havoc on our bodies and brains. In our increasingly digital world, it is essential to find ways to take the time to unplug in healthy ways that can revive us and restore our productivity and spirit.

Here are 5 hacks that you can use to cut down your screen time or reduce the effects strain caused by long periods of screen use.

1. Take a time-out

Many of us spend our days at work at a desk seated in front of a computer. It doesn’t matter whether you are a software programmer or work on an automated packaging line, computers dominate the workplace landscape. They are no longer just for word processing. They control all facets of production, service and manufacturing industries. To help reduce the strain caused by constant computer screen use, be sure to set aside time during your day specifically to give yourself frequent breaks from the screen where you can rest your eyes and brain. A reset will not only elevate your mood, but it will also make you a more efficient worker.

2. Upgrade your monitor or adjust your settings

Higher quality computer monitors often cause less eyestrain due to their clarity. Choose a monitor that is anti-reflective to reduce the effects of glare. Older computer screens may also experience a flicker in their display, which even if imperceptible, can cause your eyes and brain to tire more easily. Another way that you can improve your display is to adjust its settings to be more conducive to prolonged use. Adjust the brightness to match the lighting in the room. Also, you can change the text size and contrast so that it is easily readable without the need to strain.

3. Try Blue light glasses

Computer, mobile phone and tablet screens emit blue light, short-wavelength visible light that that is associated with more eye strain than longer wavelength hues, such as orange and red. Blue light has been found to have a tricky effect on our brains that can lead to the disruption of natural sleep cycles. To fight the effects of blue light, you might consider using special glasses that can block the wavelengths of blue light. These glasses are often lightly colored and can block more than 90% of blue light emitted by the screens you use.

4. Exercise your eyes

Think of your eyes like a muscle, it is necessary to exercise them to keep them in the optimal condition. If you don’t take care of them or work them too hard and you will inevitably end up with an injury. There are some simple exercises you can do that will provide your eyes with a much-needed time-out from staring at a screen. With your eyes open, start slowly by moving them up and down a few times, then begin moving them in circles – first clockwise for five seconds and then counter-clockwise for five seconds. Once you have done this, close your eyes and rub your palms together for a few seconds. Place your warmed palms over your closed eyes and relax in darkness for a couple of moments. Another trick you can use is to periodically pause to focus on distant objects in your gaze. We often use screens at a close distance and this allows for a sort of reset for your eyes and brain.

5. Use eye drops

Dry eyes can magnify the effects of screen fatigue on your eyes. Ironically, using a screen can actually lead to dry eyes because while you are processing all the information displayed in front of you, you tend to blink less – causing your eyes to dry out more quickly. Use lubricating eye drops to moisturize your eyes and reduce the irritation of dryness. You can also use a humidifier in your office or home to add more moisture to the environment you are working and living in. If the air in a room is too dry it can quickly lead to dry eyes.

From the time you wake up and check your emails and notifications on your smartphone or tablet, the long days spent in front of your computer screen, the online casino or video entertainment on your commute, to the evenings spent catching up on your favorite tv show, the average person spends as much as 12 hours a day in front of a screen.

This dramatic increase in screen time compared to as little as 30 years ago is undoubtedly affecting our physical and mental health, development, behavior, and relationships. Our brains and bodies are processing an enormous amount of data and information through televisions, smartphones, tablets, and computers on a regular basis.

It is unknown what the long-term effects of hours in front of a screen will have on our brains, but it is almost certainly changing the way we think, develop and communicate with one another on a fundamental level.

All of this consumption is wreaking havoc on our bodies and brains. In our increasingly digital world, it is essential to find ways to take the time to unplug in healthy ways that can revive us and restore our productivity and spirit.

Here are 5 hacks that you can use to cut down your screen time or prevent the effects of strain caused by long periods of screen use.

1. Take a time-out

Many of us spend our days at work at a desk seated in front of a computer. It doesn’t matter whether you are a software programmer or work on an automated packaging line, computers dominate the workplace landscape. They are no longer just for word processing. They control all facets of production, service and manufacturing industries.

To help reduce the strain caused by constant computer screen use, be sure to set aside time during your day specifically to give yourself frequent breaks from the screen where you can rest your eyes and brain. A reset will not only elevate your mood, but it will also make you a more efficient worker.

2. Upgrade your monitor or adjust your settings

Higher quality computer monitors often cause less eyestrain due to their clarity. Choose a monitor that is anti-reflective to reduce the effects of glare. Older computer screens may also experience a flicker in their display, which even if imperceptible, can cause your eyes and brain to tire more easily.

Another way that you can improve your display is to adjust its settings to be more conducive to prolonged use. Adjust the brightness to match the lighting in the room. Also, you can change the text size and contrast so that it is easily readable without the need to strain.

3. Try blue light glasses

Computer, mobile phone and tablet screens emit blue light, short-wavelength visible light that that is associated with more eye strain than longer wavelength hues, such as orange and red. Blue light has been found to have a tricky effect on our brains that can lead to the disruption of natural sleep cycles.

To fight the effects of blue light, you might consider using special glasses that can block the wavelengths of blue light. These glasses are often lightly colored and can block more than 90% of blue light emitted by the screens you use.

4. Exercise your eyes

Think of your eyes like a muscle, it is necessary to exercise them to keep them in the optimal condition. If you don’t take care of them or work them too hard and you will inevitably end up with an injury.

There are some simple eye exercises you can do that will provide your eyes with a much-needed time-out from staring at a screen. With your eyes open, start slowly by moving them up and down a few times, then begin moving them in circles – first clockwise for five seconds and then counter-clockwise for five seconds. Once you have done this, close your eyes and rub your palms together for a few seconds. Place your warmed palms over your closed eyes and relax in darkness for a couple of moments.

Another trick you can use is to periodically pause to focus on distant objects in your gaze. We often use screens at a close distance and this allows for a sort of reset for your eyes and brain.

5. Use eye drops

Dry eyes can magnify the effects of screen fatigue on your eyes. Ironically, using a screen can actually lead to dry eyes because while you are processing all the information displayed in front of you, you tend to blink less – causing your eyes to dry out more quickly.

Use lubricating eye drops to moisturize your eyes and reduce the irritation of dryness. You can also use a humidifier in your office or home to add more moisture to the environment you are working and living in. If the air in a room is too dry it can quickly lead to dry eyes.