The UK’s National Stress Awareness day is on the 4th of November this year. Stress is the feeling of being under too much emotional or mental pressure, and can affect us all due to the worries of modern life. It’s normal to feel stressed sometimes, but it’s important to recognise when relationship, life, work or money worries are becoming too much.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things that you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning relaxation techniques, taking regular exercise, and improving your time-management strategies. Stress can also cause eye strain, ultimately affecting your eye health, so here’s our guide to decreasing your stress and improving your eye health!
1. Recognise your stress triggers
Generally, we become stressed when we have too much to deal with and don’t know what to do about it. One excellent way to recognise your stress triggers is to keep a diary, as it will help you become more aware of the times, places and people who are making you feel more stressed.
Have a close examination of your To-Do list and remove anything that isn’t essential. Accept that you can’t do everything at once, and see if you can write yourself a newer and kinder schedule. If you have problems that feel unsolvable, give yourself the time to think about them, and don’t be afraid to ask for help! We all need help sometimes.
2. Be active and give yourself some “me” time
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress as it releases endorphins, which are chemicals that lower your blood pressure and make you feel good. You could combine a few weekly exercise sessions with “me” time, but time to yourself in any way is very important to de-stress. Have a long bubble bath, escape in a good novel or do whatever you enjoy most to unwind.
3. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol
Cut down your consumption of stimulants and depressants, like nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. These products all contain chemicals which can increase your stress levels, even if you’re using them trying to reduce stress. Try drinking some tasty fruit juices or smoothies instead, and put the money you would have spent towards a nice relaxing treat for yourself.
4. Blink! Then get some eye drops
Stress can cause problems with our eyes, because they are an extension of our brain. Work-related stress can also cause eye problems due to too much screen time!
Symptoms of stress that can manifest through your eyes include twitching, dry eyes and blurred vision. When the human body experiences stress, the heart has to work harder to maintain stasis, which can cause dry eyes. To alleviate dry eyes caused by too much screen gazing and forgetting to blink, make sure you take the time to look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes, then gaze at a distant object about 20 metres away. This is known as the 20-20 rule and will improve your eye lubrication.
Blurred vision can also occur, as your eyes react to a perceived threat and dilate more than they would do normally. This allows too much light in and can be the cause of blurred vision and twitching, as your body tries to compensate for the stress response.
It is important to see your GP or ophthalmologist if you continue to have vision problems due to stress, as they can help you.
5. Get some extra support to tackle your stress
Ask your friends and family to help you relax, join a yoga class, or speak to your GP about local courses for stress reduction. If you need to speak to someone who is impartial about how stress is affecting your life right now, please contact Mind or The Samaritans, who are available 24/7 to help you deal with whatever life throws at you.