With the demands of daily life, it is normal for people to encounter stressful situations on a regular basis. In fact, stress is normal and no one is immune to it. Its intensity, on the other hand, may differ depending on the circumstance.
Stress is the body’s response to daily pressures or demands, especially if they are perceived as threatening or dangerous. It is the result of brain chemicals, referred to as hormones, surging through the body. These hormones make people sweat, breathe quicker, tense their muscles or prepare to take action. When a person feels stressed, their built-in alarm system, known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, is triggered.
Long-term stress can be harmful for mental and physical health and many people may not be aware of the fact that stress can be harmful to their vision. When the body experiences stress, the eyes require more energy in the form of nutrients to help manage the stress until a balance is restored. If the eyes do not get enough nutrient supply they require, the eye tissue can be damaged. If not managed, stress may lead to macular degeneration and tunnel your vision, which can negatively impact eye health. As a practice, it’s important to keep your patients informed on the possible dangers of stress to their vision. Here are 6 easy steps to reduce stress and improve vision that you can share with your patients:
1. PRACTICE SELF-CARE
It’s no surprise that many people get caught up with their daily routines, always trying to fit in as much as they can in what little time they have. It’s easy for schedules to become jam-packed with events and activities leaving little to no time for some free-time. This can take away from much needed ‘me-time’, a simple yet necessary step to help reduce stress levels.
Self-care is an important practice for people to balance busy schedules with doing something selfish, something whose sole purpose is to bring pleasure. Remind your patients that if they want to preserve their eye health, they need to start taking steps today to prevent any issues in the future. Here are some tips  to offer your patients on how they can practice self-care:
QUICK TIPS: 5 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care
- Take a warm bath
- Set aside 30 mins for something you love
- Tidy up your space
- Release endorphins with exercise
- Turn off your phone
2. ELIMINATE OR REDUCE CAFFEINE INTAKE
For many, coffee is seen as a daily requirement needed to get them through the day. That’s because the caffeine found in your morning brew acts as a stimulant to help us feel alert. Caffeine isn’t necessarily bad for your health because it does offer some health benefits. However, too much of a good thing is never good and excessive caffeine consumption may lead to various short- and long-term health risks :
Remind your patients that too much caffeine is never good and that they should opt for alternatives as a preventative measure. Suggest your patients to switch out their regular coffee for decaffeinated or limit one coffee a day. Advise them to stay away from sodas and energy drinks completely and if they must drink it, they should only consume small amounts.
3. IMPROVE EATING HABITS
Along with reducing caffeine intake, it’s important to remind your patients about maintaining a healthy diet. Your patient’s daily food choices could be a leading factor on their stress levels. In the attempt for stress management, food can be a helpful tool or it can be the underlying issue and by getting a better sense of what your patient consumes in a day, you could help them find ways to manage their stress.
According to a study on stress , the amount and quality of nutrients a person consumes can impact the body’s neural circuits that control emotion, motivation and mood. Suggest to your patients to adopt healthier eating habits composed of fresh fruits and vegetables along with unprocessed meals in order to better manage their stress. Nutrient dense foods can also help improve their eye health such as fish that are rich in omega-3s or foods rich in vitamin A such as carrots to maintain eye health. As a rule of thumb, let your patients know that a healthier diet will reduce gut inflammation, which will in turn reduce eye inflammation and increase healthy eye circulation. If they have trouble starting, advise them to replace one junk food with a healthy option.
4. IMPROVING QUALITY OF SLEEP
Sleeping is the body’s way of recharging itself. Without getting enough sleep, the body won’t be equipped to the handle the demands of daily life, including stress. Lack of sleep has been shown to hinder the body’s ability to handle stress and can lead to reduced willpower to make healthy decisions . It is therefore a leading factor in making poor daily decisions such as overeating, undereating or avoiding exercise which can all lead to increased stress. Here are some basic steps for your patients on how they can improve their quality of sleep:
Remind your patients on the importance of not only getting enough sleep but getting good quality sleep.
5. EXERCISE YOUR EYES
Simple eye massages throughout the day are an easy way to release stress in the eye muscles, improve lymph flow and open up your peripheral vision. It can be helpful for eye circulation and blood flow in the eye tissue. Keep your patients informed on the importance of exercising their eyes as a way to improve their overall eye health  and to help reduce their stress by giving them a chance to refresh their vision.
For patients that have a desk job or who are often in front of a computer or phone screen, emphasize the importance of giving their eyes a break. Suggest they take a couple of minutes every hour to look at something other than a screen. Here are 5 easy tips you can give them for them to give their eyes a break:
- Blinking more often
- Palming (Placing your palms over closed eyes and applying gentle pressure for up to a minute)
- Trace an eight with your eyes
- Rolling your eyes
- Focusing on objects near and far
Keep your patients up-to-date on the potential risks of stress to their eye health. Share the image below on social media as a quick and easy way to keep them informed and remind them to come in for a scheduled eye exam.