Stress, something we all experience, whether that’s a stressful meeting, deadline at work, sorting your children out for school or that very stressful family gathering on the weekend. As with everything, stress is good in moderation, but too much stress could affect your eye health. As this month (April) is stress awareness month, we decided to look at how stress affects your eye health and how you can relax your body and eyes!
Can stress and anxiety affect your eyes?
When the body is stressed, it releases adrenaline, which puts extreme stress on the eyes, leading to some people having blurred vision.
Stress can also cause eye twitching (lid myokymia is its medical term). This lid twitching is a product of continuous contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscle.
Can too much stress and anxiety cause serious eye diseases?
A study published in EPMA Journal in 2018 proved a direct link between too much stress and anxiety and the development of certain eye diseases. When the body is stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released to counteract the stress. If a person is too stressed or is under constant stress, cortisol rates can get dangerously high, which can cause inflammation and leakage of fluid in the eye. It also has a direct link in the development of age-related Macular Degeneration and central serous retinopathy.
How can I relieve stress?
Here are five ways you can relieve stress:
Exercise regularly – non-competitive aerobic exercise is a proven stress reliever. Strengthening with weights, yoga and tai-chi have been proven to release endorphins – natural hormones that make yourself feel better.
Stop using tobacco or nicotine products – Nicotine is often mistaken for a ‘stress reliever’, especially by its most dedicated consumers. However, Nicotine increases more stress on the body by reducing blood flow and breathing.
Meditation – taking time to relax every day can reduce stress. Mediation could be perfect for helping your body relax and wind down each day. Whether you embrace long hours of meditation, or just a few minutes each day, the impact of it on decreasing stress has been well documented.
Journaling can be a fun and reflective activity that helps you wind down and focus on yourself and your values. Journaling for just 30 minutes a day can allow you to reflect and focus on the one person that is important to you!
Diet – A healthy, balanced diet can be vital in helping your body reduce stress. This also means cutting out too much caffeine, alcohol and processed foods, which contribute to increased stress.
If you are after a superfood in the morning to help relax and destress your body, a chia berry smoothie full of omega-3 and fibre can help your body relax! This is the recipe:
1/2 cup frozen berry blend
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp almond butter
1 cup almond milk
How can I relax my eyes?
Blue light is transmitted when you are pondering at your screen all day, which causes eye fatigue, digital eye strain, and damages the cells in the retina. To help relax your eyes, you can purchase blue light lenses for your glasses or anti-reflective coating for your computer screen. Both products allow your eyes to relax and not be too strained when in front of screens.
You can also adapt a variety of techniques to help relax your eyes, including:
Sunning, where you position yourself in an area of natural light and close your eyes without wearing contact lenses or glasses. The sunlight releases dopamine, helping relax your eyes.
Using an eye mask while sitting comfortably (not napping!) helps your eyes relax, as they don’t need to focus on anything. Doing this teaches your brain that your eyes do not always have to strain.
Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas or activities to help your eye health and destress during stress awareness month! When you’re feeling stressed, it is important to take some time for yourself to relax, as stress has many negative health implications, not just on the eyes!
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