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Self-Care: Tips for Taking Time for You

Posted on April 24th, 2020
Self-Care: Tips for Taking Time for You

Many of us are social distancing across the country, which means more time at home. It’s important to be mindful about how this period of isolation is affecting both our minds and bodies, and—of course—our eye health.

There are many things in life that can cause an increased amount of stress, and self-care is one way to cope with those challenges. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health advises, “self-care activities may add meaning to your health while also supporting your life. They can also help reduce the effects of negative stress on your life.”

With that in mind, FYidoctors put together a list of 4 self-care tips to consider while at home:

1. Develop Habits to Help Manage Stress

Managing stress is often easier said than done. It manifests for different people in different ways. Being mindful that stress can build, and practicing self care can be one way to help alleviate the side effects that stress can cause. Keeping up with the news can sometimes feel like a gargantuan task. While it’s important to stay informed, consider taking a break and managing your stress in healthy ways. 

Keep in touch with family and friends. While isolated, staying connected to those you care about, will help bring back some normalcy in your life and offer support emotionally. If you live with your family already, allocate a time in the day to spend quality time with them to check in on how everyone is coping. Naturally, you will all be in close contact if you’re under one roof, but spending time doing something that brings you together (such as a puzzle, or board game) that takes your minds off of stressful triggers can boost your mood significantly. Being “connected” doesn’t have to be an activity either, even just sitting down to have meals at the dining table and talking about what you’re looking forward to or what each of you is grateful for, can help.

If you live alone, schedule regular phone calls or video chats with family and friends. Tools like Facebook Messenger, Zoom, and Google Hangouts will allow you to partake in group video calls. There are also apps to link up close relationships through stress-relief games like Words with Friends or Draw Something. These, and others (such as multi-player card games) give you a chance to think and talk about something other than work, life stress, and the issues and challenges in the world today. It’s important to see how your circle is coping, but it is also important to bring positive opportunities for a little fun into your routine, in order to maintain a supported and healthy mindset. If you’re working from home, check out our recent blog for tips on how to adjust to work-home life.  

Stay active. Fitness is another terrific way to relieve stress. Try at home workouts, such as yoga or core exercises. There are also many streaming channels with free workouts on YouTube like MadFit and Self Magazine.

If your neighbourhood allows for it, take a walk or jog outside—while maintaining safe distances. Working out helps produce endorphins, neurotransmitters that help relieve pain and stress. Even if you take 30 minutes of your day to focus on your fitness, this will go a long way towards developing a healthy routine.

Reach out. The Canadian Mental Health Association is also offering resources to help you cope with the stress of COVID-19. The Government of Canada’s mental health support page has a number of resources if you need emotional assistance. There are also online counselling apps like Better Help and Talk Space, that will match you with a licensed therapist. These resources are designed so you can talk privately with a professional to gain tangible resources to cope with any mental health challenges you are experiencing. If you are in need of immediate emergency assistance, call 9-1-1.

2. Be Mindful of Eating Habits

With limited grocery runs and ingredients, many of us are now more aware of what we eat in a given day. It can be tempting to stock up on processed snacks (the occasional cookie never hurt anyone!) but you may want to consider some healthy alternatives to set you up for the long-term.

Beans, green vegetables, fruit and fish are all terrific sources of nutrients like Vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which will boost your vision health. Healthy foods like these could help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), vision loss, dry eyes, cataracts, and problems with night vision.

A 2014 study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, discovered that home cooking contributes to a healthier overall diet, citing that people who ate at home six to seven days a week tended to eat less carbohydrates and fewer calories compared with those who ate out frequently. Another recent 2019 study by University of Manchester found that a healthy diet could ease the symptoms of depression—encouraging individuals to eat more nutrient dense food and less refined sugars.

Being at home may be an opportunity to kick start a healthier lifestyle through your diet! It’s also an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and to spend more time with your family on an activity that will improve everyone’s lifestyle.

Check out our top 5 healthy freezer-friendly meals to make while social distancing and at home for ideas on what eye-healthy meal to make next.

3. Get a Restful Sleep 

Stress can impact the quality of our sleep, which contributes to many facets of our well-being. The government of Canada recommends people aged 18-64 get 7-9 hours of sleep a night while 65+ individuals should aim for 7-8 hours. Adequate rest can affect our mood, focus and even help lower blood pressure, and repair tired muscles.

Limited sleep could also potentially have negative effects on your vision. The minimum amount of sleep your eyes need to properly rest is 5 hours. Without this you could notice eye spasms, called myokymia, which are involuntary twitches of your eye lids. Lack of sleep could also cause dry eye. Sleeping gives your eyes a chance to have fluid recirculation, which lubricates and cleans your eyes. For more information check out our blog on how sleep affects your eyes.

Try to improve sleep by allocating an hour to wind down before bedtime. During this time consider reading until you feel sleepy, or even meditate to calm your mind before you turn in. You could also try listening to white noise to clear your mind. Limiting screen time is also important before bed. Our devices emit blue light, which has been found to increase energy and wakefulness. Shut off devices during this period to avoid exposure.

Ensure there are no environmental factors that might disturb your sleep. Shut curtains to prevent external light from entering, wear an eye mask, and arrange your sleeping area in a way that makes you feel most comfortable. This could mean picking soft bedding or even positioning your bed at an angle that makes you feel relaxed.

4. Take Care of Your Eye Health 

Your eyes still need the same care and attention. Eye strain can occur from long hours on the computer or from sun exposure if you’re out for walks outside unprotected. Remember to wear sunglasses outdoors and to take regular breaks from your virtual environments. FYidoctors offers a wide range of sunglasses with 100% UV protection from harmful UVA and UVB radiation. You may want to consider checking the UV index if you are planning on going outside. This is measured on a scale of 1 to 11+, from low risk to high risk to UV exposure. Consider wearing a hat for added coverage, and always wear sunscreen. For more information on eye protection read our blog on polarized lenses and their benefits. 

Seasonal allergies have already begun for many as the weather becomes warmer and irritants enter your environment. You may want to consider allergy relief eye drops to limit symptoms like itchiness, redness and dry eye. An antihistamine may also be effective in relieving swelling and unpleasant symptoms. Remember to avoid rubbing your eyes, as tempting as that may be, you would only introduce more debris and exacerbate the symptoms. Try using a wet or cool cloth instead. Read our seasonal allergies blog for more tips on how to cope with the changing weather.  If you are experiencing any eye issues, please call us.

Finally, washing your hands frequently is also of utmost importance. Conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye) can be caused when bacteria enters the eye. Be mindful of touching your face and eyes to avoid contamination. This is a good practice to have, regardless if COVID-19 is a concern.

For more self-care tips visit our health and wellness main blog page. If you have any urgent eye care needs or inquiries, call an FYidoctors clinic near you to speak with an optometrist today.