6 tips to soothe tired eyes
As “the windows to the soul”, your eyes are well worth paying attention to. Stress, fatigue and too much time spent in front of bright screens can leave your eyes crying out for a dose of TLC. Night owls and device-addicts in particular run the risk of drying out essential fluids around the eyeballs and straining the tiny muscles of the eye socket.
Weak eye muscles can contribute to eye fatigue. Exposure to artificial, flashing lights and long stretches of reading or working can also lead to problems such as headache, blurriness or flickering eyes. Just like any other muscle in the body, the six muscles connecting the eyeball to the surrounding socket require exercise and care to keep them in optimal working order.
Try these tips to help care for your precious peepers:
- Blink break. A healthy eye blinks every few seconds but oftentimes we get so engrossed in an activity or are concentrating so intently that we simply forget to blink! Think of blinking as your personal windscreen wipers. Blinking clears away debris such as cellular matter, dried tears, dust and other airborne pollutants from the surface of the eye. Blinking also serves to flush fresh, nutrient-rich tears over the ocular surface, nourishing and lubricating the whole eye.When sore, dry eyes start to take their toll, take a “blink break”. Open the eyes wide and then rapidly blink 10 times. Pause for a 30-second break with the eyes closed and relaxed. Repeat 3-4 times. Endeavour to take a “blink break” every hour or so when engaged in close-up work.
- Palming. “Palming” is an easy exercise you can do anywhere, anytime to soothe and refresh the eyes and surrounding muscles. Here are the steps. First, rub the palms of your hands together vigorously to create warmth. Next, cover the closed eyes with your warmed palms. Now close the eyes and feel the warmth and energy generated by the hands. Repeat steps these steps a few times. When the eyes feel refreshed, remove the hands and sit for a few moments with a soft gaze or closed eyes. Ahh … happy, calm, refreshed eyes!
- Eye rolling. Stretch and strengthen the eye muscles by exploring their full range of movement. Slowly look from side-to-side as far as feels comfortable; roll your gaze in a full circle in both directions; stretch your eyes to look all the way up, then all the way down. Try to keep the head and neck still as you do this, and repeat each variation a few times.
- Near and far gazing. Stretch your index finger out in front of you at arm’s length. Focus your gaze on the finger, then look further afield, to an opposite wall or the view out a window. Swap your focus from near to far a few times. This exercise is like a sit-up for the eye muscles!
- Tense and release. It may sound counter-intuitive but muscular relaxation can be easily achieved by first creating tension! Our eye-brain connection means that once the eyes are relaxed the rest of the physical body and nervous system should follow. Take a breath in as you squeeze your eyes shut for a few moments, then exhale with a sigh as you release the tension and gently open the eyes.
- Use an eye pillow. Yoga fans will be familiar with the eye pillow, often used to cover the eyes for the final resting pose of class. Eye pillows are made from soft fabric and most often filled with flax or other dried grains. The light weight of a pillow encourages the eyes and surrounding muscles to soften and sink deep into the eye sockets. Withdrawing from the sense of sight also provides a welcome break from visual stimulation. Store-bought eye pillows are easy to find or you can improvise by placing a clean towel or wash cloth over the eyes. Consider making a homemade version by tying off a clean sock half filled with uncooked rice, flaxseed or similar.
Please note: for best results, remove contact lenses or eye glasses before trying these tips.
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