(Family Features) When considering making changes to positively impact your well-being, many aspects of health may jump to the forefront, from taking care of mental and emotional health to ensuring a well-maintained body from head to toes. However, one sometimes overlooked area is your eyes and the importance of vision care.
Despite nearly 4.2 million Americans over the age of 40 suffering from impaired vision, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it’s an aspect of daily health that is sometimes neglected.
To better care for your eyes, consider these tips that put the focus back on eye health:
Schedule an exam
While focusing on enhancing care for your eyes is a productive idea regardless, it’s also important to have your vision and eye health checked regularly by a professional. This can help detect diseases and conditions that cause vision loss and blindness, many of which show little or no symptoms in the early stages, and a doctor can help create a care plan that preserves your eye health.
Use proper lighting
While there are many everyday ways to maintain eye health and function, there is one simple yet overlooked way to take care of your sight: reducing eyestrain.
While three out of four Americans suffer daily from eyestrain, according to an online survey conducted by Russell Research, some people may not realize the lighting they use at work and home may be contributing to the problem.
One way to achieve a reduction in eyestrain is to use indoor lighting such as the OttLite Wellness Series, a line of lamps that closely matches the spectrum of natural daylight to reduce eye fatigue and eyestrain by 51 percent. The line includes four models featuring stylish designs with ClearSun LED technology, high-quality diffusers for clear illumination and multiple brightness settings, all intended to help reduce eyestrain by providing “good” lighting, which means providing enough natural daylight-quality illumination to see clearly without being blinded by excessively high light levels or glare.
The lamps also feature adjustable necks and shades to help direct light to fully illuminate an intended area and adjust for glare from reflective surfaces and smart features like USB ports to conveniently charge your devices. Find more information at OttLite.com.
Maintain overall health
Living a healthy lifestyle overall can have a positive impact on your eye health, too. For example, maintaining a healthy weight can help avoid risks like diabetes, which can lead to vision loss from diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. In addition, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables aids eye health, along with fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration and blurred vision. It’s important to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays when you’re outside by wearing sunglasses that block out 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation.
Shield your eyes
While sunglasses help block out the sun, protective eyewear like safety glasses and goggles can help shield the eyes while conducting physical activities like yard work or playing sports. Be sure to use safety glasses specifically intended for the use you’ll wear them for, as some varieties are designed for certain activities.
Limit evening screen time
The blue glare from traditional lighting and electronics (TV, cell phones, computers, tablets) used before bed may disrupt sleep patterns and circadian rhythm, and may even lead to sleep disorders, depression, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
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Between the hours staring at a computer screen and the nearly constant temptation of treats in the breakroom, most offices are not known for fitness and health. However, work is where most Americans spend at least one-third of their days, and it’s a place where simple changes can make a big difference.
Hunger is an important factor in managing workday wellness, from maintaining focus to making smart snacking choices. A survey on workplace snacking, conducted by Focus Vision and supported by the American Pistachio Growers, found that 92 percent of workers report becoming distracted from their tasks at work due to hunger before lunch. Eighty percent said they get hungry in the mornings before lunch and think about food often or every day.
Watching your eating habits and being more aware of your body’s physical needs can help promote a better office lifestyle. Take steps to improve your workday wellbeing with these tips from Dr. Mike Roussell, nutrition expert and adviser to “Men’s Health” and “SELF” magazines:
Keep healthy snacks on-hand. Sugary snacks can send you on a roller coaster ride of energy and focus. The right kind of healthy snacks can satiate your appetite as well as improve your health and performance at work. For example, the survey on workplace snacking showed a midmorning snack of pistachios can help improve concentration, and the right kind of snack at the right time can help give you a competitive edge at work.
Find time for activity. Being physically active can help control stress, recharge your brain and promote overall wellness. Being at work doesn’t mean that you must be sedentary. Break up lunchtime with a short walk or jump on board with a growing trend and conduct walking meetings. Next time you have a brainstorming or check-in meeting, take it to the streets and hold your meeting while walking around.
Feed your brain. A healthy body doesn’t just mean strong muscles and maintaining a healthy heart, but also nurturing a healthy brain. It is important to fuel your brain with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. Research from Loma Linda University shows that eating pistachios stimulates brain waves associated with cognition, memory and learning. Lutein, an antioxidant found in pistachios, is also associated with improvements in executive brain function.
Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is not only important for athletic performance, but is also important for peak mental performance at work. Several research studies show that small levels of dehydration can decrease mental performance and negatively impact mood. To avoid becoming dehydrated, have a large glass of water with each meal or snack and at least one more glass between meals.
Take breaks to recharge. Engineers of one productivity app analyzed time logs from more than 5 million days of tracking to determine the behaviors of the most productive people. They found that when people worked for 52 minutes then took a 17-minute break they had the highest productivity levels. Setting periods of intense focus and then time off during your workday can help you be more productive and reduce stress.
Skip mindless eating. The office can be a nutritional landmine. Bowls full of candy and breakrooms with boxes of donuts make it all too easy to nibble without fully realizing all the calories you are accumulating. Taking a more proactive and conscious approach to snacking can help cut out unwanted extra calories while also curbing your appetite.
Explore more ideas for smart snacking at the office and at home at americanpistachios.org.
A Handful of Health Benefits
Increasingly, people with desk jobs are looking for healthier snack alternatives to typical choices like donuts and vending machine fare. A solution may be a simple handful away.
In a survey commissioned by the American Pistachio Growers, 1,000 American office workers who skipped breakfast consumed a snack of pistachios (about 1 1/2 servings) between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The midmorning snack proved to be just what they needed to power through the morning. Ninety-two percent of the participants reported the pistachio snack helped eliminate hunger and improved their concentration.
Reinforcing their role in mental acuity, in a separate study, pistachios produced strong gamma waves, which are critical for enhancing cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep.
“Pistachios are an ideal midmorning or midafternoon snack because of their unique nutrient package that not only promotes feelings of fullness and satiation, but newer studies show that it can promote an optimal mental state and more focus at work,” Roussell said. “Pistachios are a healthy snack that you can look forward to eating day in and day out.”
Indeed, an option like pistachios is a healthier choice than many go-to snacks. They do not contribute to weight gain or body fat changes and can significantly improve dietary nutrient intake. Survey participants increased their consumption of nutrients such as thiamin, vitamin B6, copper and potassium after snacking on pistachios for four weeks.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Business people walking and talking)
Pain can impact nearly every aspect of your daily life from cleaning the house to going to work or playing with your kids. In fact, according to the Institute of Medicine, 100 million Americans, or more than 30 percent of the population of the United States, suffer from chronic pain, which is pain lasting 3-6 months or longer.
Most often, chronic pain is treated using prescription opioids. However, the National Institutes of Health estimates 2 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription pain relievers, while 60 people die every day as a result of opioid overdoses, according to the National Safety Council.
“The country is facing intertwined crises of opioid misuse and chronic pain management. Non-opioid, non-pharmacological treatments such as acupuncture and other similar interventions can be essential in handling patients’ pain management as a complement to lessen dependency on opioid prescriptions and serve as a more effective holistic therapy for chronic pain,” said Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, chief executive officer of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). “The care provided by NCCAOM National Board-Certified Acupuncturists is essential in continuing the movement toward greater integrative and complementary pain care, especially as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to harmful opioid prescriptions.”
To help treat your pain with a non-opioid solution, consider these tips:
Set Goals for Yourself
Setting realistic, measurable goals that focus on functional health and quality of life is essential to managing chronic pain. Outline specific, measurable goals you hope to achieve, such as exercising for 30 minutes three days a week or cleaning at least one room in the house twice a week and track your progress toward reaching them.
Use Relaxation Techniques
There are a variety of techniques, including meditation and deep breathing, that can help your body relax by slowing breathing, lowering blood pressure and instilling feelings of well-being. Giving your muscles a chance to relax can release tension, which may ease pain. Practicing yoga or tai chi, which involve a series of physical postures in addition to breathing and relaxation techniques, may also help reduce pain.
Consider Non-Pharmaceutical Treatment Options
With concerns mounting about the prevalence of opioid use and abuse in the U.S., complementary, natural treatments such as acupuncture can help alleviate pain and reduce the number of opioids prescribed. Using practices derived from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncturists stimulate specific points on the body, most often by inserting thin needles through the skin. For example, National Board-Certified Acupuncturists, whose credentials can be verified through the NCCAOM, are affirmed to have the education and training necessary to competently deliver acupuncture services. To learn more about how acupuncture can help with pain management or addiction, or to find a practitioner in your area, visit nccaom.org.
Focus on Nutrition
A well-balanced diet is vital to overall health and well-being and can also influence chronic pain. As food choices can increase or decrease inflammation, which leads to many chronic diseases, consider a diet low in sugar and carbohydrates that includes fresh, organic fruits and vegetables; lean, grass-fed meats; legumes; nuts; whole grains; and organic dairy products.
Keep Track of Progress
To effectively manage and treat your pain, consider keeping a journal to note your pain level on a scale of 1-10 each day. Also track your activity during the day – including time on your feet, exercise and even sitting at your desk – so you can identify patterns based on what you do and how you feel afterward. Then use the connections you’ve made to modify your environment and schedule as necessary.
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