We've all heard the saying “listen to your body.” It's good advice, especially now when our mental and physical health are more at risk because of the realities of working from home and increased social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now is not the time to ignore aches, pains and discomfort such as muscle pain, headaches and eye strain.

If you experience any symptoms that aren’t normal for you, keep track of them – when did it happen, what did it feel like? Add any extra details that might help your health care provider diagnose the issue.

Eye problems

These days, we’re on screens for work, for entertainment and for social connections. All that screen time can affect our eyes, with symptoms such as dry eye or eye twitches. If you find yourself experiencing these issues, it’s possible your body is signalling it’s time for a break.

The Mayo Clinic offers an online symptom checker, providing self-assessment for symptoms ranging from abdominal pain to wheezing. It warns that it’s not a diagnostic tool, but it includes overviews, possible causes and some treatment suggestions. Here’s what it says for eye ailments. 

Dry eyes

Dry eyes occur when tears can’t provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Symptoms may include red eyes, a stinging, burning or scratchy sensation, eye fatigue or sensitivity to light. Mayo Clinic says causes of dry eye can include aging, hormonal changes, vitamin A deficiency and medications such as antihistamines. Certain situations may be a factor such as not blinking often enough while looking at a screen, being in an air-conditioned room or in a windy or smoky setting.

Here are some tips to deal with dry eyes:

  • Take breaks. Close your eyes for a few minutes or blink repeatedly for a few seconds.
  • Position your computer screen below eye level. When it’s higher, you tend to open your eyes wider to view it and that increases the evaporation of tears.
  • Use artificial tears regularly, even if your eyes feel fine.
  • Another tip for eye strain is the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes look away from your screen to something 20 feet in the distance for 20 seconds.

Eye twitches

Eye twitches only affect the eyelid and usually only one eye at a time. They tend to go away after a short time, but can return over a few hours, days or longer. When you notice your eye twitching it could be a sign of fatigue or stress, or it could be a response to bright light or wind, or maybe too much coffee. If you eliminate the triggers and the twitches don't go away in a few days, check in with your doctor.

Muscle pain

With more sitting in makeshift office set-ups, a lot of people are feeling pain in the lower back and neck area. When our muscles hurt it’s often a sign of poor posture or that we’re doing something new.

Lower back pain

Low back pain is usually a sign of overuse, strain or injury, but it can also be caused by aging, arthritis, an illness or medical condition, according to HealthLink BC.

Walking may be the best exercise for the lower back because it gets blood moving and helps muscles stay strong. Stretching and core exercises can also strengthen the back which can help build the extra support to reduce pain and strain.

Neck pain

Slouching, sleeping with your neck twisted or activities such as painting a ceiling are some causes of neck pain, according to HealthLink BC.

If the pain isn't caused by an injury, treatment can include:

  • Putting a heating pad (on a low or medium setting) on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours. Exchange one of those sessions with a warm shower.
  • Try an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every two to three hours.

Look at your habits to take more of a preventative approach.

  • Take short breaks from sitting at a computer several times an hour.
  • If the neck pain is worse at the end of the day, think about how you sit. You should be straight in your chair with your feel flat on the floor.
  • If you have neck pain when you wake up, change the position you sleep in and check your pillow, which should keep your neck straight. Avoid sleeping on your stomach with your neck turned or bent.

If your back or neck pain lasts more than two weeks or the pain increases, consider visiting a physiotherapist, your doctor or maybe try massage therapy.


According to Migraine Canada a tension headache is the most common type of headache and less severe or long-lasting than a migraine. Up to 80 per cent of people will experience a tension headache during their life, and 25 per cent of people will have one during a year. 

A tension headache involves pressure on your head, with pain on all sides, in the neck and behind your eyes. The pain with tension headaches usually lasts only a few hours and goes away with over-the-counter medicines.

Most of us will suffer these common ailments from time to time and, while they are generally not serious, they can be very uncomfortable and signs that your body is telling you to make some changes. Remember, it’s important to discuss any persistent or abnormal physical symptoms with your doctor.