Simple Relaxation Techniques for Your Eyes
The following essay is reproduced with publisher's permission from the book Think Success by Jayaram V.
Your eyes are your windows to the world. About 85% of your sensory input comes from them and the rest from other senses. Having normal vision is, therefore, a great blessing. Your health, habits and lifestyle choices influence your vision and the condition of your eyes. Since your sight is vital to your survival and wellbeing, you have to take every possible precaution to protect your eyes from harm and injury, and keep them in good health. Your eyesight is effected by many health conditions. Of them stress is a major factor. Prolonged stress causes vision impairment and leads to their wear and tear.
Studies show that you can improve your eyesight by relaxing your body and mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, moderation in your habits, relaxation techniques, healthy diet and lifestyle choices, regular physical examination of your eyes, contribute greatly to your overall health and minimize harm to your eyes. Your eyes have a direct connection with both your mind and body. Hence, you should focus upon both to improve their functioning.
The following suggestions are meant for healthy people with normal vision to practice relaxation and keep their eyes healthy and stress free through normal and harmless ways. If you suffer from any eye problems, you should consult your physician and seek his advice. The techniques suggested here are not substitutes for medical advice or treatment. For any problems related to your eyes, before taking any action, you must invariably consult a doctor or an eye specialist and seek advice.
1. Sleep well
Since your eyes remain open and active when you are awake, you should give them adequate rest. Lack of proper sleep can lead to tiredness, irritation in the eyes, stress, headaches, drowsiness and even migraine attacks, which in turn may result in sight problems. If you have sleep problems, you must address them first.
Many factors interfere with your sleep. If you have worries and anxieties, you will not be able to sleep well even in the most peaceful environment. Therefore, if you are suffering from lack of sleep, you should ascertain the causes and find a suitable remedy. For example, eating before going to bed or watching television late in the night may result in disturbed sleep. It is also not a good practice to take medicines, drugs, and alcohol to sleep well, since it can lead to long term adverse effects. On the other hand, meditation, healthy diet, and regular exercise can greatly help you to improve your health and experience peace and happiness.
2. Learn to relax
Stress builds in your body gradually during the day as you spend the day dealing with problems, making decisions, and performing tasks. If your day job is stressful, you are likely to suffer even more. Unfortunately, you cannot just run away from your job or avoid doing it. You have to find other ways to cope with job related stress by using your ingenuity to find opportunities to relax even amidst work. For example, a friend of mine who worked in an accounting firm had to check everyday hundreds of receipts and certify them before entering them into ledgers. As the business increased, his workload also increased. He devised his own method to avoid stress. In between his work, he would stop doing everything, close his eyes and briefly relax. It helped him to keep his stress under control. Another friend of mine worked in a warehouse as the delivery man. He had to drive almost eight hours each day to transfer packages from the warehouse to customer's place. Driving in busy lanes and frequent traffic jams caused him a lot of stress and affected his sight. He too found a way to reduce his stress. Whenever he had time, he stopped his vehicle somewhere on the way at a quiet place and relaxed there until he felt fine. His supervisor allowed him to do it since he knew how stressful the job was. If you are a busy person, you can find your own ways to relax while performing your job. For example, you can use your breaks to relax and relieve stress. You can also occasionally pause in your work, take a few deep breaths and stretch your body. By relaxing intermittently you can decrease the stress that builds in your body.
3. Use cold water
Cold water can have a very soothing effect on your eyes. You might have noticed how relaxed and refreshed you feel when you use cold water to wash your face. Your eyes are the most delicate part of your face. The touch of water can increase the blood flow to them and provide the much-needed relief. Hence, to feel refreshed, wash your face with cold water, or take water in your palms and gently press your eyes against them. Water is both a healer and a purifier. It will take away not only the impurities from your face but also the negativity and stress that builds up in you, apart from making your feel energized and relaxed. There are no fixed rules regarding how many times in a day you can practice this. Practice it three or four times every day, depending upon how stressed you are. However, make sure that the water is clean and you do not have any make up on your face or eyelids.
4. Get your eyes checked
Your eyes need care and attention. You have to get them examined regularly, or whenever you feel your eyesight has deteriorated. After a certain age, you must invariably get them checked every year. In some people, eye sight stabilizes after sometime and in some it continues to deteriorate. Many eye problems develop slowly and almost silently. The checkups help you to detect any hidden problems in time and avoid complications. The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health categorizes eye care specialists in the following manner. Choose them according to your need.
- Opticians who dispense glasses, but do not diagnose eye problems.
- Optometrists who perform eye exams and may diagnose eye problems. They prescribe glasses and contact lenses, and in cases may even treat eye diseases.
- Ophthalmologists, who actually diagnose and treat, eye diseases. They may also provide routine vision care services such as prescribing glasses and contact lenses.
- Primary care physician, who may provide additional assistance when the eye problem is part of a general health problem.
5. Blink consciously
Your eyes are one of the most active organs in the body. Nature has provided them with certain mechanisms to relieve strain. Of them blinking is one. Your eyes keep blinking regularly, whether you are aware of it or not. It keeps them moist and reduces the tension that builds in the muscles that are connected to it. The blinking is more regular in people who have normal vision, whereas those with sight problems develop the habit of staring at things to see them more clearly. It increases strain to the eyes. See how frequently you blink. If you are not in the habit of blinking regularly, you should try to blink consciously to provide the relief that they need.
6. Practice eye exercises
Certain eye exercises are prescribed in the holistic medical systems and alternative therapies, which can relax the eyes and relieve the strain. They have been used for long in traditional medical systems and alternative therapies. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that they all work uniformly for everyone. However, several people found them effective in improving their vision. Some even claimed to have regained their vision fully after practicing them and done away with their glasses. The following exercises are recommended by many to improve vision. When you practice them, make sure that you will not unnecessarily strain your eyes as it may prove counterproductive.
Palming: In this exercise, you use your palms to cover your eyes fully and stare into the darkness that appears in front of you until you are completely relaxed. Try to see as much darkness as you can since it puts you in more restful state. When you do it, make sure that your palms do not press your eyes or cause any strain. If you practice it regularly and correctly it will relax your eyes and improves your vision. After practicing it for a few months, some people said to have reported that they were able to see normally without wearing any glasses.
Moving your eyes: This exercise is meant to strengthen your eye muscles. You have to practice it either by standing or sitting. Keep your head straight and move your eyeballs, up and down a few times. Then repeat the same moving them sideways, and finally in circular fashion. When you move them in circular fashion, you may do it visualizing zero or eight. Again, it is important that you will not strain your eyes when you do it. You should also keep your head straight and not move it when you move the eyeballs.
Focusing far and near: This exercise also meant to increase the flexibility of your eyes tone the connected muscles, and improves blood circulation in them. You can practice it either in open or in indoors. For this exercise, you may either stand or sit comfortably, and choose two objects for focus, one that is far away and another that is very nearby. Briefly, look first at the faraway object and next quickly look at the nearby object. Repeat it for a few times in quick success. Some people hold their hand or a finger in front of their eyes and use it as the close object and choose a tree or a hill or some landmark as the faraway object. You can any choose any objects you like for this exercise, as long you alternate the focus and do not strain your eyes.
Massaging the eyes: This is a delicate exercise in which you gently massage your eyes and the surrounding areas with your fingers or palms, accompanied by deep breathing and relaxation. You may even do it as part of your facial massage or extend it to other areas in your face such as your forehead, cheeks, and eye sockets. Additionally, for increased relaxation, you can use your fingers to gently press various pressure points in your cheeks, forehead, near the eyes and ears, and back of the head, without pressing them hard.
Effortless focusing: This exercise is meant to improve your peripheral vision. In this exercise, you can sit or stand in a relaxed manner, but you should keep your head straight and your eyes wide open. Now, without turning your head or making any effort to look at any object directly, you should become aware of all the things that are present in your field of vision. You should see as far right and as far left you can without moving your eyes. This is called effortless and aimless focusing, which improves the fluidity of your eyes, whereby you can see without any desire, intention, or interest, and become aware of your surroundings without being particularly interested in any specific object.
Deep breathing: This is similar to the breathing exercises, which you might have practiced in yoga. Sit in a comfortable position, holding your head straight. Close your eyes and relax your mind and body, as you take few deep breaths in and out. Alternate your breathing pattern, with long and short breaths, until you are fully relaxed and enter a restful mode. The more your relax, the better it is for your eyes, mind and body. When you do this exercise, do not fight any thoughts. Just focus on your breath and breathing pattern. If you do it sincerely, your thoughts will take care of themselves.
Meditation: This is also similar to the meditation exercises taught in yoga. In this exercise also you sit comfortably in a chair or on a mat. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and relax your entire body from toe to head, focusing on each part. After a few minutes as you enter a fully relaxed and restful mode, you may begin to observe your thoughts and emotions as they rise and fall, without offering any resistance, making any judgments, or becoming involved with them. If you are lost in your thoughts, try to bring your mind to the present moment and start again. The idea is you must become a mute witness to your own thoughts and allow yourself to become fully relaxed and refreshed.
8. Use the warmth of the sun
In this exercise, you use the warmth of the sunlight without directly looking at the sun. Go out into the open, close your eyes, and turn your face towards the sky in the direction of the sun. Let the warmth of the sun touch your face, eyelids and gently relax them. Feel the heat in your face, eyes and other parts of the body. This exercise is meant to increase the blood flow to your eyes and create soothing effect as your bask in the light of the sun. It is however important that you will not look at the directly at all, as it can permanently damage your eyes.
9. Protect your eyes from the sun
You may use the warmth of the sun to improve your vision, but never directly look at the sun. You should also avoid going out frequently into the open when the sun is bright, without wearing dark glasses. Sunlight contains harmful ultraviolet radiation, which can damage your retina. Some people claim to have developed mystic powers by directly gazing at the sun. However, it is a dangerous practice, which should be avoided by all means. Prolonged exposure to bright sunlight, even when you do not look at the sun directly, increases the incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration, while exposure to ultraviolet light may lead to benign growths on the surface of the eyes. Therefore, protect your eyes from the sun and the ultraviolet radiation, by wearing sunglasses whenever the sun is bright.
10. Eat healthy food
Certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, fish, oysters and milk are found to be good for your eyes because they are rich in vitamin A, C and E, anti-oxidants, and minerals such as zinc and selenium, which are required by the eyes. They not only improve your vision but also reduce the incidence of cataract, night blindness, macular degeneration and corneal ulcers. However, you should avoid foods that are found harmful to your eyes such as sugars, carbohydrates, alcohol, coffee, fried food, hydrogenated oils and margarine. Prescription drugs that are used in the treatment of chronic diseases like arthritis, depression and high blood pressure, may produce side-effects that increase the incidence of cataract, glaucoma and blood clotting. When you have to use them, consult your doctor and seek advice.
11. Avoid injuries
Since your eyes are delicate and vulnerable to injuries, you should take proper precautions to protect them. Every year, millions of people suffer from eye injuries, which often lead to partial blindness. Children who play games with darts, toy guns, and sharp objects are especially vulnerable. Those who use welding machines, cutting machines, flammable materials, and harmful chemicals, or those who play dangerous sports, or games where physical contact is unavoidable, should invariably wear protective gear to protect their eyes.
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