As a retoucher, I spend most of my day molded into a chair and working in front of the screen. It was only after a couple of years that I began realizing the strain it took on me. Being much younger, it wasn't as much of an issue as it was when I started getting older. I immediately began finding ways to make my time behind the screen more comfortable and healthy. As fellow creatives, I am sure most of you also have the same issue. I reached out to my colleagues for advice and here are some suggestions I found.
Although this list isn't comprehensive, it's a series of suggestions echoed by my colleagues. Thanks to those who participated here, I also found some new suggestions as well as some tips I was already practicing. We made a similar list previously, however this seems to be more in depth based on what we found.
A common issue is eye strain due to the screen itself and the amount of time spent focusing. Many people have sworn by eyewear such as Gunnar Optics, which seem to null the effect strain has on their eyes. Our fellow writer, Rebecca Britt, swears by them for her time at the desk.
Also, consider the use of lubricating eye drops, such as Systane eye drops.
Taking Breaks Often
The day has gone by and before you know it, you're zoomed into an image at 200% retouching the odd flyaway on a model's head. You're entrenched and now you begin to realize that you've been at your desk for hours without a single break.
It's quite simple, practice taking more breaks. For every hour you're working, get in the habit of getting up from that chair and catching a breather. Look away from the monitor and realign your eyesight by looking at something in the distance. While you're at it, get a glass of water and stretch!
Taking breaks will allow you regain focus on what you were working on. It's not uncommon to work on an image only to find that you are not happy with your results the next day. Getting that 5 minute break in will realign your vision and thoughts to help make more efficient use of your time.
If you're really bad at keeping the time, there are apps like Break Time to help you out. No more excuses! Yes, there's an app for almost everything.
Take A Nap
I can hear it now, “Who has time for a nap?” This is true, many people just don't have time for one. However, if time allows for such a luxury, studies show how effective taking a nap is for your cognitive health. Check out this short and informative video showcasing the great benefits it has. You will be more efficient through the day if you can get one in! There are even apps like White Noise which allow you to get a deeper sleep with the time you have. Efficiency is such a great thing.
Diet And Exercise... For Your Eyes
Just like the rest of your body, your eyes benefit directly from proper exercise and nutrition to extend the life of them well into your later years. Here's a great article which outlines some of the benefits of exercising your eyes.
Nutrition may play the biggest role in maintaining eye health. You want to look out for foods like carrots that are packed with beta-carotene. Other foods such as spinach, oranges, berries, seeds, nuts, turkey, oysters, and fish, contain the necessary vitamins and minerals that are needed for optimal health. Here's a great concise article outlining more of that in detail.
Drink More Water
Be sure you are drinking an adequate amount of water! After all, almost 75% of Americans are dehydrated. You might as well get in a habit of getting a glass each time you take a break. It will reduce eyestrain, headaches, and other temporary ailments. It's definitely easy to forget about water when you're busy. I used to have a lot of symptoms that were related to dehydration. Once I started drinking more water, they all fortunately had gone away.
Office Setup: Chairs, Posture, and Alignment
I've been fortunate to visit many photographers and I have seen the place they typically work in on a daily basis. They'd spend hours behind the screen and one of the last things they would invest in is a good chair. Sometimes, it would even be a bar stool or something without any back support at all. Not surprisingly, they would also complain about fatigue and back pain. Although I don't have any specific recommendations, having a good chair that is ergonomic, has good back support, and comfortable is a must for anyone who is sitting at a desk for hours on end.
Posture is also very important. OSHA has an in-depth overview of how you should be seated at your desk. I have found that aligning myself up with this model really feels great. It allows me to work for hours without any discomfort. Take a look and see if your desk is setup accordingly. It may be the best change you could make right now.
Hit The Gym!
Not only does working out have a tremendous impact on mood, energy, and overall health, but strengthening your muscles can extend the time spent behind the desk. If you seem to have a weak back, strengthening those muscles can really improve posture and comfort level for those long hours at the desk or even behind the camera.
So here's a glass to good health and improved health, for you workaholics out there! If you have any more suggestions, be sure to chime in below. As this article isn't comprehensive, we'd love to hear what other tips have helped you for our readers.
Also as a quick heads up, I will be teaching a few great retouching classes at the Fstoppers Workshop in the Bahamas this May. Check out the details here (http://fstoppersworkshops.com/pratik-naik/. Come out and spend some time with us, you need that break! Check out the promo video on what you can expect at this year's workshop!