Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stress decoded— relax and thrive this season

Stress decoded— relax and thrive this season

What's causing it?
The most common cause of stress is feeling like you have little or no control, but that sense of helplessness comes in many forms—like putting up with inebriated party guests and Uncle Wayne's off-color jokes.
Biologically, stress causes your body to shift into survival mode where it releases epinephrine and cortisol, a.k.a., "the stress hormones." When these hormones appear, they trigger the liver to release extra glucose for a boost of energy to fuel the "fight or flight" response.
This shift that stress brings upon the body causes your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. Trouble surfaces when you spend too much time in survival mode.
What's at risk?
The "breaking point" between a decent level of stress and stress overload can trigger numerous side effects. Since stress is a subjective phenomenon, its effects are specific to each individual. However, some common side effects include:
• a weakened immune system
• diabetes
• high blood pressure
• weight gain/loss
• stroke
• heart attack
• hypertension
• depression
• insomnia
• emotional disorders
What does stress have to do with my eyes?
Due to the interconnectedness of the body, most of the common side effects listed above can affect the eyes in one way or another. Joseph Udvari, a VSP doctor at West Hills Vision Center in Moon Township, PA explains a few of the possible repercussions:
"High blood pressure and hypertension can strain your eye's blood vessels and optic nerve, possibly resulting in bleeding, difficulty seeing clearly, or permanent vision loss. Strokes often leave their victims with vision impairments, and insomnia can lead to dry and bloodshot eyes." For a deeper look into diabetes' effects on the eyes, check out this month's Your Eye Health article.
How do I get rid of it?
Chronic and intense stress often leads its victims into self-destructive coping strategies, which don't usually solve the problem. Taking a self-constructive approach has better potential for success. Here are some simple pointers from Dr. Udvari on how to help yourself RELAX.
R - Rest
Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
E - Eat Well
Balance out the holiday sweets with fruits and vegetables.
L - Laugh
Laughing releases endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers.
A - Accept
Accept the things you can't change—such as traffic jams and annoying coworkers.
X - Exercise
Like laughing, regular exercise also naturally improves your mood.

If you find that the stressors in your life are becoming too much to handle, contact your primary care physician as soon as possible to avoid a serious health condition. To prevent the effects of stress on your eyes, be sure to schedule your annual eye exam where your VSP doctor can look for potential health or vision problems.

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