Tool #10: Caring for your health

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Taking care for one’s and others’ physical and psychological health is crucial. So here we assemble a series of inputs to do so.


Stress occurs when you feel the demands put on you exceed the resources you have. Burnout is a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Physical symptoms of stress are insomnia, headache, tension, aches and pains. Pain – either physical or psychological – is the body’s warning that something is wrong.

What to do

• Learn to say no and don’t see everything in terms of “all or nothing”.
• Change what is systemically stressing your body and mind.
• Make sure your position at work is ergonomically correct.
• Build some relaxation moments into your day and try to adopt a balanced lifestyle.
• Stretches and exercises reduce stress and muscular tension. Stretch at least once per day – it reduces the effects of static posture and prevents and treats existing pain.
• Regularly get fresh air and find a way of exercising that you enjoy. Aerobic exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins in your body. It thus exhilarates and relaxes.
• Make sure you get enough sleep and rest.
• Give your body and mind time to recover from periods of stress.
• Make sure you eat well. You need key nutrients to feel well and skipping meals, dieting or eating poorly affects your health and ability to cope.
• Laugh and take it easy.

by Agnieszka Łukasik

Eyes are one of the most important tools for visual artists and designers, yet we aren’t told how to take care of them. Art colleges and academies don’t hold special classes about health care for designers. Probably that’s why there is a high possibility that we will encounter problems with our trading tools (or organs) at least once in our life, if not more often.

Many people have a habit of squinting their eyes while working at the computer, often combined with blinking way too infrequently. This way of seeing puts a physical and psychological strain on a person and makes eyes tire easily, which can lead to more health problems, such as myopia and dry eye syndrome. The most basic way of healthy seeing consists of changing focus point and blinking frequently without squinting. A good, natural way of seeing should be devoid of effort. After a long day of computer work or when we are tired and sleepy we tend to stare at the same point in the distance which could be compared to cramps, but on eyes.

Here’s one of my favourite quotes from Jenny Holzer, which I feel can be aptly applied to the working situation of many designers and artists and can serve as a warning: There is a period when it is clear that you have gone wrong but you continue. Sometime there is a luxurious amount of time before anything bad happens. (The Living Series, 1989)

What to do

• Every now and then look away from the computer screen and focus your sight at the most faraway object you can find. Preferably, out of the window with a view on some greenery or towards the end of a long corridor. Then look at some other objects which are at closer and closer proximity to you. Don’t forget to blink when doing so.
• Every hour or so, do a 5-15 min. break. You can do one of the exercises described below if you feel you need to.
• If you work in air-conditioned place and your eyes tend to get dry, equip yourself with artificial tears eye drops.
• Eliminate the source of light which casts reflection on the monitor. The standing lamplight shining up is the best. The light source with adjustable level of light intensity can come handy too.

There are more complex exercises that can be downloaded, some of them are based Dr. William Bates alternative therapy aimed at improving eyesight. While the therapy was proven to be ineffective and these exercises won’t cure near-sightedness or any other bad sight condition, I think that the ones aimed at relaxation certainly help after or during a long day in front of the computer screen.


Last edit: 29.01.2015