Addressing Digital Eyestrain

Addressing Digital Eyestrain

Too much computer, phone, or e-reader use may harm your vision. Computer Vision Syndrome (also referred to as digital or electronic eyestrain) results from prolonged use of electronic devices. This concerns the average American worker who according to the American Optometry Association averages seven hours per day using a computer or electronic device. CVS has many painful symptoms. You may experience a single symptom or any combination. Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Migraines
    Dry eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Head, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Vision loss, and more

Poor lighting, screen proximity, and screen glow can further exacerbate these conditions. Persons with poor posture and those with poor baseline vision may be at increased risk for CVS. For most people, CVS symptoms and discomfort cease after time away from a computer or device screen. Yet for some, symptoms continue long after. American Optometry Association (AOA) warns these symptoms, left untreated, may cause further damage.

What to do About Eyestrain

Evidence of CVS is detectable with a comprehensive eye exam. If diagnosed with CVS your eye-care professional will recommend the best treatment plan for you. Treatments vary due to symptom and patient but often, the following recommendations may help alleviate eyestrain:

  • Train your eyes. Vision therapy can help train and improve how your eyes and brain interact, reducing the workload.
  • Position your screen. Keep your computer, tablet, phone and other devices at the right distance and angle from your eyes. The best position for your screen is 15-20 degrees below eye level and 20-28 inches from your eyes.
  • Avoid the glare. Avoid screen glare by closing any blinds or drapes on your windows. Use lower watt bulbs in lamps or overhead lights. Anti-glare screens are available as well.
  • Sit upright. Keep your chair upright and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Look away. Try to budget 15 minutes every two hours for a screen break. This can help your eyes recover. You can also practice the use 20-20-20 method. Every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Blink! Blinking regularly helps maintain eye moisture, reducing fatigue.

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Workplace Violence is On The Rise: What You Can Do

Workplace Violence is On The Rise: What You Can Do

News of disgruntled employees seeking revenge against employers and coworkers is on the rise. More and more, employees use violence and deadly force at the workplace. News of workplace violence appears almost daily in the headlines or on social media. Based on real or perceived wrongs, employees use violence at work to settle their scores.

What We Can Do

Aggressive behavior often takes time to build. Employees becoming agitated will usually begin to show warning signs. Warning signs may include:

  • Trouble with coworkers or supervisors
  • Domestic problems spilling into the workplace
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Aggressive outbursts

Some companies use proactive methods to get to know their employees. Working to identify these issues may help avoid trouble later on. Many more companies use a wait-and-see approach, risking catastrophic consequences. Employers may fear legal culpability should intervention measures fail. If an employee became violent after company involvement, they may face accusations. Should the company overreact with an employee instead, they may face discrimination charges.

The increase in workplace violence calls for a change. Employers must abandon the wait-and-see policy in favor of proactive measures. Failure to act may result in terror and violence. No one can predict when and where violence will strike. Still, there are certain ways you can prepare. Protect yourself against workplace violence with these 5 steps:

1. Employee Training

Employee training provides the most-effective measure in the event a worker turns violent. You may also consider engaging a professional security expert. Security experts take employees through drills simulating active shooter scenarios and provide training. These experts claim two types of employee training exist for countering this threat:

  • Prevention. Train your employees to be proactive in preventing workplace violence. Employees are a ground-level resource for identifying potential indications of violence in colleagues. Employees can report suspicious activities or behavior matter to management for follow-up.
  • Protection. Train your employees on how to protect themselves if violence erupts. Employers can access The Department of Homeland Security’s “Run, Hide and Fight’’ video for training. The video details tools to best to survive an active shooter scenario. It offers practical advice on how to handle the situation, and to come out alive.

2. Be Vigilant

Many active shooters are still employees of the company when they begin shooting. It may be a snap decision due to an event at the workplace or premeditated. In both cases, certain actions or events may point to violence before it happens.

These may be aggressive habits or behaviors, threats, intimidation, or a focus on certain employees. Proper policies and procedures can help prevent violent behavior before it occurs in the workplace. Monitor terminated employees until they leave the premises.

3. Be Aware

If a staff member is in trouble with the law, take it upon yourself to find out why. It may be innocent, or it may be indicative of future workplace woes. Employees dealing with court and family matters may be more prone to acting out in the workplace.

Special considerations may be necessary to avert any issues at work. Employees suffering outside stress may need attention. In some cases, time off, counseling, or reduced workload can ease their burden.

4. Encourage Communication

Open workplace communication can help identify any risks or concerns. Openly-shared information about workplace dissatisfaction or domestic troubles can help you best respond. Keep your security team informed, and ensure you are attentive to employee needs and concerns.

5. Develop An EAP (Emergency Action Plan)

Any company with over 10 employees should develop an Emergency Activity Plan (EAP). An EAP guides users on the best procedure for dealing with an emergency. EAPs cover any number of general emergencies, and emergencies specific to your business. Your own EAP can include what to do in case of an active shooter. An active shooter EAP can outline employee actions, assembly points, and other useful material. Emergency Action Plans should include drills to familiarize employees in case of violence.

Employees need training on how to respond to active shooters now more than ever before. No single strategy or plan is perfect, but planning and training can help you avoid tragedy.

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Dealing With Stress at Work

Dealing With Stress at Work

Do you feel anxious and overwhelmed at your job? You’re not alone. In 2014, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in partnership with National Public Radio and the Robert Timber Johnson Foundation, conducted a survey on occupational stress. This study found that one in five employees reported high levels of workplace stress in the past year. 37% reported experiencing at least some level of occupational stress at their job.

Causes of Occupational Stress

The America Psychological Association tracks causes of occupational stress. The most common causes include:

  • High workload
  • Low chances for career advancement
  • Poor pay, and
  • Work that is unrewarding

Other causes of workplace stress include poor comprehension of job expectation and a sense of lacking control.

Common Effects of Occupational Stress

Job-related stress doesn’t end after you leave work. If your office anxiety follows you around, it has the power to affect your physical and psychological health.

  • The APA reports even short-term exposure to stressful work environments causes digestive complaints, headaches, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Chronic anxiety causes insomnia, high blood pressure, and can weaken your immune system.
  • High stress causes chronic anxiety, weight disorders, and heart disease.

The APA reports employees with high stress-levels may cope by indulging in high-calorie foods, using excessive tobacco, abusing alcohol, and even medication abuse. This can lead to more health complications.

Manage Occupational Stress

To help manage occupational stress the APA suggests taking the following steps:

1: Track the causes of workplace stress. Over a period of several weeks, record stressful workplace events. This will help you to determine what events in the workplace cause your anxiety. Record your reactions including:

  • How you felt at the moment
  • The people involved, and
  • How you responded.

Identifying these details can help uncover patterns in the stressors and your reactions.

2: Develop healthy coping mechanisms. When you’re anxious do you turn to alcohol or food as coping mechanisms? When you’re feeling stressed, try to find a healthier stress reliever. Exercise and reading are great examples of stress-relieving activities. Always be sure to get adequate rest.

3: Set boundaries. Is your job creeping into your personal life? Sometimes jobs make us feel like we need to be available at all times. When this happens, create work-life boundaries. Try to ignore your phone during dinner, and avoid checking your work email after-hours.

4: Take time for yourself. Don’t give up your vacation days! Take time to relax when you can. This can help you feel rested and prepared for the workday, improving your mood and performance. You can even sneak relaxation techniques into your workday. Spend a few minutes during break meditating, breathing deep, or stretching.

5: Talk to your manager or supervisor. Explain you’ve been under a lot of stress. This isn’t about complaining. It’s about sharing a workplace concern with your supervisor. If you’re having trouble with stressors in your workplace, speak to a supervisor about finding a solution.

6: Get Support. Determine whether your workplace has an employee assistance program. If so, use this system to get the support you need. If you still feel overwhelmed, or do not have access to an assistance program, you may want to seek the help of a psychologist.

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