As we face growing responsibilities, we naturally find ourselves multi-tasking more and more. Sometimes we feel dizzy and overwhelmed from having to constantly filter through and process information. What does it mean to “feel dizzy” when there’s a lot going on and what kind of impact does mental stress have on our visual function?
In this post, we will explore the correlation between our eyes and mental wellbeing.
How Stress Affects Your Eyes
As the saying “the eyes are the window to the soul” implies, there have always been speculations about the connection between the eye and our minds. It’s believed that stress causes the eye to either rapidly move or tense up.
According to one study targeting university students, when students were asked to do quick calculations continually, their eye movements increased in horizontal movement. This could imply that when we are concentrating on a fixed situation, we actually do feel dizzy. Rapid eye movement requires eye muscle activity, which in turn can strain the eyes.
The autonomic nervous system in our body greatly impacts our mental wellbeing. The sympathetic division keeps us active, preparing for fight or flight reactions, while the parasympathetic division restores the body to a state of calm. Our mental balance is sustained through these two divisions working in harmony. An off-balance state of an autonomic nervous system will affect the mental and physical in some way.
Continual long hours of work keeps the sympathetic nerves active over a long period of time. This creates a tense and nervous body.
It’s not rare to find ourselves staring into our smartphones or TV when we’re feeling down, yet we need to rest our eyes if they feel tense. Tense eyes are a sign of low blood circulation and this can lead to the eyes feeling more strained.
How to Recover From Eye Strain
Whether the cause is mental or physical, the best way to fix eye strain is to relax and not use the eyes. Reading a book or watching TV can be relaxing, but we recommend the following activities for eye strain issues:
1. Rest The Eyes
First and foremost, rest your eyes. Rest gives the strained eyes the ability to recover.
You can do this by getting adequate sleep at night. Sleep allows the eyes to physically rest while letting the parasympathetic nervous system work for the body to restore itself. Even if a huge load of stress disrupts our whole nervous system, sleeping should help recover both the mind and body.
Another method to try is limiting the usage of smartphones and TV. Screens on electronic devices emit “blue light” known to keep our eyes in hyper-focus while disrupting the body from going into a deep sleep state. It’s impossible to completely cut usage of electronic devices, but we can ease the harmful effects by limiting electronics one hour before bed or by using glasses that cut out the blue UV rays.
2. Look Far Away
Looking far out into the distance helps the eye muscles relax. If you’re constantly looking at a screen for work, make sure to look out the window from time to time. Some urban environments make it difficult to access long distant views, but just looking afar while walking will help with eye strain. A relaxing walk can help uplift our moods too!
3. Eye Hydration
Dry eyes can cause eye strain. When eye muscle movement becomes strenuous, our eyes become dry and strained. An easy way to fix this is by hydrating the eyes with eye drops or pressing pressure points around the eyes.
Other methods to try:
- Set computer screens lower than eye level – looking down makes it easier for the eyes to blink which helps with eye hydration
- Use a humidifier in the room and set the humidity to 60%
- Try conscious blinking throughout the day – we forget to blink when we’re focused
- Drink lots of water and keep the body hydrated
- Watch movies or read books that make you cry
You don’t have to make drastic changes to hydrate your eyes. Small conscious changes can make a big difference.
Fixing Strained Eyes Fixes Other Issues
If your eyes feel strained, it could be because of your mental state. Our physical and mental response to any given situation can be complex, so fixing a simple eye strain issue can lead to solving other issues surrounding us.
If our eyes are the window to the soul, let’s make sure we keep them healthy to reflect our beautiful souls!
References:MATSUDA, N., OKADA, A., & YAMASHITA, K. (2007). Visual Task and Mental Load Influence on Eye Movement. The Japanese Journal of Ergonomics, 43, 334–335. https://doi.org/10.5100/jje.43.2Supplement_334
Tamura, A., & Ostuka, H. (1989). Urban Greenery and It’s Effects on Mental Wellbeing. Technical Report on Noise Pollution, 13(5), 12–16. https://doi.org/10.11372/souonseigyo1977.13.252