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Reducing Stress During the Holidays: Tips for You and Your Eye Health

Posted on December 22nd, 2020

The holiday season is always busy and stressful. This year is no different as we try to navigate a restriction-filled world of COVID-19. The pressure can pile on, especially at home, at work and financially.  

A recent study shows that prolonged mental distress may impact your vision health. Elevated cortisol levels can cause an imbalance in the autonomous nervous system and trigger the onset of vascular dysregulation, a known cause of glaucoma.

Tackling symptoms of anxiety is important, not only for the sake of your vision health but also to improve your overall health. Here are a few mental health tips to alleviate holiday stress this season:

There are a few ways to directly minimize the effect on your vision.

  1. If you spend a lot of time working on your computer or phone, you may consider purchasing blue light blocking lenses for your glasses—these lenses work to filter out the blue light given off by digital screens.
  2. You can also adjust the brightness of your monitor, which will reduce the feeling of strain.
  3. Another way to care for your eyes is to make sure you take time to rest them throughout the day. If you are spending long periods of time in front of a screen, stop to look around the room every 20 minutes, and make sure to blink often.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care looks different for everyone. It is the act of consciously engaging in activities that positively promote mental and physical health. Be kind to yourself. Often, we are our worst critics, and taking a moment to give ourselves credit for even the small things can help. How can you practice self-care in your own life?

Here is a list of activities to consider trying:

  1. Ensure you get enough sleep each night. Regulating sleep patterns can be hard, but background noise or aromatherapy can assist in soothing the mind and body in preparation for sleep.
  2. Carve out time and space to engage in hobbies you enjoy, or try a new hobby you’re interested in.
  3. Reach out to your close connections to talk.
  4. Take a relaxing bath or shower. Warm water gets your skin to release endorphins, the same way you feel the sun on your skin. 
  5. Equip yourself with healthy ways to process emotions. Whether that’s finding informative videos or talking to a professional, there are many ways to guide yourself.
  6. Make sure you are getting sunlight and time outdoors every day. If you can’t go outside, cracking a window can help too.

Try Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a powerful tool to help relax your mind and body if you integrate it into your day-to-day routine. There are many ways of doing them so try experimenting to find ones that really work for you. Breathe in through your nose, then out through your mouth. Feel that? Some tension might already be lifting.

Remember these tips when using breathing techniques to relax:

  1. Find a peaceful area to practice these exercises.
  2. Take time out of each day to spend focusing on your breathing.
  3. Try mindful breathing for a few minutes at a time, and slowly increase the amount of time you spend doing so each day.
  4. Headspace: Meditation and Sleep and The Breathing App are useful tools to guide you.

Stay Active

Exercise in any form can help release feel-good endorphins, distract from day-to-day stressors and improve your mood. Moving your body also works as an active form of meditation, as you will find that your mind is focusing on the movement of your body rather than thinking about your worries. Sometimes all it takes to feel better is cutting out the chatter in your head for a few minutes.

  1. Low impact exercises such as yoga, walking, tai chi and home exercises are especially effective in promoting a meditative state.
  2. Local studio live streams and on-demand programs are an at-home replacement for your regular exercise classes. Be sure to consult your physician before starting a new program.

Eat a Healthy Diet

What you eat can help with stress reduction in several ways. Tension may contribute to an impact on blood pressure and blood flow, so combating these symptoms is important.

  1. A comfort meal—like a warm bowl of soup—will help you relax, while healthy and enriching foods can improve blood flow and mental health.
  2. Avoid sugar packed foods that cause inflammation and opt for meals loaded with omega-3s (fish) and vitamin E (sunflower seeds, spinach and almonds). A study shows certain foods are supportive to your blood flow and are easily incorporated into your diet.

Manage Your Priorities

We all know that feeling when the to-do list seems like it will never end and the hours in your day are flying by faster than you can keep up with. Prioritize, delegate and assess urgency—these are three ways to begin managing your priorities at work and at home.

  1. Managing your priorities and to-do list will help you maintain a lower pressure levels throughout the day.
  2. Separate your most urgent tasks, and work through those first.
  3. Get comfortable delegating tasks to those who have more bandwidth.

Relaxation

Relaxing your mind and body can assist in reducing tension and related symptoms. Here are a few methods to try at home:

  1. Practice mindful meditation.
  2. Write in a journal.
  3. Try progressive muscle relaxation.
  4. Get a massage. You can look into having a massage therapist come to your home.
  5. Have a warm drink that does not contain alcohol or caffeine.

We recommend inserting these tips into your lifestyle, as maintaining a healthy head-space year-round is beneficial to you overall health—including your eye health.

If you notice any difference in your vision health during a particularly stressful time in your life, try out some of our tips and reach out to book an appointment at one of our FYidoctors clinics. Remember to book a yearly eye exam to keep up with any changes that may be taking place with your vision.