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If You Spend Your Day Staring at a Screen, Doing Just a Minute of ‘Eye Yoga’ Can Ease Neck, Jaw, and Forehead Tension

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You’ve probably never thought to throw in a set of eyeball exercises at the end of your leg day. But, as silly as it might seem, working out your eyes comes with a slew of benefits.

“Just as we talk about focusing on people’s posture or strengthening your legs, talking about our facial muscles—our tongue, our eyes—is just as important as any other part of your body, and it’s often ignored,” says Anne Collins Duch, DPT, of Physical Therapy for Women in Delaware.

People who clock long hours at their computers can suffer from headaches, neck discomfort, eye strain, jaw clenching, and tension between the brows, Dr. Duch says. Luckily, devoting just one or two minutes to a few eyeball exercises—or “eye yoga,” as Dr. Duch affectionately calls it—can help us notice where we’re holding tension and release it.

While they might feel a little goofy at first, Dr. Duch’s patients often tell her they experience immediate relief for common aches and pains after completing her suggested routine of eye exercises for tension relief, whether it’s a little less clenching in their jaw or an unfurrowing of their brow.

Eyeball exercises can also be a unique way to quiet your nervous system, Dr. Duch adds. Our eyes are often one of the first parts of our bodies to respond to emotion. When we’re nervous or scared, our eyes dilate. So the eyes can also be a powerful way to calm our nervous system when we’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

Dr. Duch recommends completing a round of the following exercises two to three times a day. And if you’re really serious about it, you can videotape yourself while completing the routine to watch for what she calls “sticky spots,” or moments where your eyes struggle to maintain smooth movement. These can be indicators that you’re holding tension somewhere.

Try these 5 eye exercises for tension relief

1. Head nods

Hold your index finger directly in front of you, a little closer than arm’s-length away.
Slowly raise and lower your chin three times while keeping your gaze on your index finger.

2. Head Shakes

Hold your index finger directly in front of you, a little closer than arm’s-length away.
Slowly turn your head from left to right three times while keeping your gaze on your index finger.

3. Diagonals

Hold your index finger directly in front of you, a little closer than arm’s-length away.
Starting from the center, slowly move your head on a diagonal line from top right to bottom left.
Complete this three times, then switch diagonals.

4. Finger to and fros

Hold your index finger directly in front of you, a little closer than arm’s-length away.
Slowly move your index finger closer to your face, and then away, all the while keeping your gaze fixed on your finger.
Complete this three times.

5. Side to sides

Hold both index fingers out in front of you, a little closer than arm’s-length away and with your thumbs touching each other.
Keeping your head still, slowly shift your gaze from your right index finger to your left.
Complete this three times.

Watch Dr. Anne Collins Duch demonstrate the movements here

 

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