In today’s high tech world, we find ourselves in high visual, auditory and mental patterns such as reading, writing, texting, editing, talking on the phone or in meetings. I hear people say they feel so exhausted after or during work, yet they go home and further stress their vision and hearing by spending hours on Facebook, watching television and YouTube, or surfing the net.
If we would treat our vision and hearing as well as we take care of our car, we would have less stress and may reduce investment in vision correction interventions.
Signs of Visual Stress
Dry and/or itchy eyes
Holding breath or shallow breathing
Headaches or migraines
Tight neck and shoulders
Tight jaw muscles
Lack of depth perception
Over focused in details
Unable to see details
Reversing numbers or letters
Falling asleep when reading or watching television
Ways to Reduce Visual Stress
1. Sip water throughout the day, especially when on the computer. Room temperature is best for absorption.
Water makes up 70% of adult weight and conducts the electrical energy across synapses in the brain. Sipping water, like a light rain, absorbs more of its nutrients, enhancing brain and health potential.
Water molecules are absorbed directly into the blood stream through the lining of the mouth and the oxygen becomes immediately available in the brain. It is essential to proper lymphatic function on which nourishment of the cells and removal of waste depends. I have had clients improve their speech and coordination just by increasing water intake. The rule of thumb is 8 to 10, 8 ounce glasses of water or four 20 ounce bottles a day. Increase water intake in times of stress.
Coffee and sodas are diuretics. They take water from the body. If you love coffee and sodas, drink more water to replace what they deplete from your body.
2. Blink and Breathe – The eyes when relaxed will naturally blink every 2 to 3 seconds providing lubrication to the eyes.
3. Take a 2 to 5 minute Palming break every hour or whenever you notice symptoms of visual stress.
See picture for how to cup your and place your palms. There should be no pressure on your eyeballs. Check to see if you have sealed out all light and adjust your hands until you can see no light. Then close your eyes, relax and breathe deeply. (Let your neighbor know you are taking a palming break so they don’t think you are nursing a headache.)
4. Take Movement Breaks
When you go the the restroom or lunch room, lengthen your calf and/or walk in place touching right hand to left knee and left hand to right knee. Walk outside and breathe fresh air. Show your boss this so they know you are switching on your brain when you walk to the water cooler to sip water.
Look in the distance, when you are waiting for your computer to load. Don’t stare at it. Staring is a symptom of fight/flight/freeze. In this state, your attention and energy goes to peripheral vision, making is stressful to focus near point, and your energy goes to your large muscle groups reducing awareness of hunger, thirst and a need for a break.
5. Create periods of silent introspection and meditation to rest from auditory stimulation and balance your outer hearing with your inner hearing.
6. Set a timer so you remember. When you are staring at your computer for extended periods of time, your brain gets the message that you are not safe and organizes your body to fight, run or freeze. In any of these reflexive modes you will loose touch with your physical needs like hunger, muscle tension, breathing etc. It is also easier for people and events to push your buttons when you are in this state. Let a timer remind you to take care of yourself while on the computer.
When you switch on your brain through movement and take care of your eyes throughout the day, you will have more energy, make less errors, be more creative and have more fun.
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