Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter. Lots of great information for you this month about eye care, how to use foods to ease anxiety, dealing with neck pain, and my new favorite pack for carrying your stuff. Let’s dig in!
Don’t Make Your Eyes a Victim of the Pandemic Shutdowns
According to a 2018 study, Americans spent more than 12 hours a day in front of some type of screen be it computers, e-readers, televisions, or cell phones. And I’m guessing 2020 will increase that hours-per-day statistic.
How many of the following do you do?
• Wake up and check your e-mails, social media, and the news
• Turn on the TV and stream your morning workout
• Sit in front of the computer for your workday
• Watch a video on your phone during lunch
• Play games on your phone to kill time
• Facetime your kids or grandkids
• Watch TV after dinner
• Read on your tablet before bed
Do you ever have blurred vision and headaches? These are two of the most common complaints for eye strain and something called computer vision syndrome (“CVS”).
The main culprit with screens is blue light. Many people are familiar with blue light because it interrupts our circadian rhythms, causing insomnia. However, blue light also causes eye strain and could even lead to permanent eye damage over time.
Here are tips to keep your eyes clear and healthy.
1. Make sure to balance the light from your display screen and ambient light. Fluorescent bulbs and too many outside windows can cause glare. Maybe try an anti-glare coating for your screen.
2. Adjust the screen display on your screen. Contrast, brightness, and resolution can all be adjusted.
3. Change the color temperature of your screen or add a blue-light filter. This helps cut some blue light. Check to see if your computer has blue-light filters. This feature is called “night shift” or “night light.”
4. Pay attention to how you sit. For good computer posture:
• Your eyes should be about three feet away from the screen.
• The middle of the screen should be about six inches below eye level.
• Keep proper posture with a good, supportive chair.
• Your elbow joint should be about 90 degrees while you use the keyboard. Use a wrist rest.
5. Blink more. Eye strain is connected to dryness. People blink less (about one third less) when staring at screens or focusing when reading. We’re not meant to stare and concentrate for long periods of time. Remind yourself to blink by setting an alert for every 15 minutes.
6. Follow the “20-20-20 rule.” Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away or more, for at least 20 seconds. Looking away gives those muscles that focus on objects up close a much needed break. Do this daily and often!
Proper eye care keeps your eyes healthier. Make these six tips a part of your healthy living rituals.
Use Foods To Ease Anxiety
For many of us, stress levels are at an all-time high. The good news is that modifying your eating habits can go a long way toward helping you manage your stress levels!
Keep in mind, though, that no foods cause or prevent anxiety. Research can generally tell us more about associations rather than causes; in other words, it can tell us that eating or avoiding certain foods may be more or less associated with experiencing anxiety.
Also keep in mind that the foods you regularly consume are more likely to impact anxiety levels than any single meal. Consistency is the key! Positive nutrition choices, such as limiting junk foods, consuming sufficient vitamin D and foods rich in omega-3s, eating a diverse diet, cooking your own food and practicing mindfulness while eating, may significantly improve anxiety levels and overall mood.
We all have our comfort foods. Whether it’s ice cream, potato chips, peanut butter or fried chicken, these foods are often associated with offering comfort during moments of stress or anxiety. But do these foods actually improve mood? It’s likely you know this answer through your own experience. Eating foods high in unhealthy (pro-inflammatory) fats and/or calorically dense foods that lead to weight gain is correlated with anxiety. Eating healthy fats and exercising regularly are associated with improved mood and resiliency.
TIP: Follow the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy foods (particularly healthy fats) 80% of the time and indulge in less-healthy foods no more than 20% of the time. Lump all “comfort” foods such as desserts, junk food, fried foods and alcohol into the 20%.
While omega-3 fats, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, magnesium and probiotics have been associated with better mood and lower anxiety, it is unrealistic to expect any particular food or food group to work miracles. Foods high in these nutrients may increase serotonin levels directly or assist with the production of serotonin, a chemical that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness, and improves the quality of sleep.
TIP: Regularly consume foods high in omega-3 fats and vitamin D, and the other important micronutrients will fall into place. Specifically, eat at least two servings of fish per week. Consume foods high in vitamin D (fish, egg yolks, dairy, and mushrooms) and get at least 10 minutes of daily sun exposure.
The gut microbiome, and the related gut-brain axis, may play a large role in the development of anxiety and depression. The gut microbiome is composed of bacteria, viruses and fungi living in the intestines and has been linked to inflammation, hunger and satiety, blood sugar regulation, allergies, mental health and other metabolic conditions. Inflammation or poor gut health is referred to as dysbiosis and has been linked to several mental illnesses including anxiety and depression. Foods that contain artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners as well as lack of dietary fiber contribute to gut dysbiosis. Natural, whole foods rich in fiber can improve gut health. Research suggests that the more diverse the diet, the more diverse the microbiome and the more adaptable it will be to distress.
TIP: Eat a diverse diet that regularly includes fermented foods. Avoid artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners.
Food is as much about connection as it is about nourishment. Americans consume nearly half of their meals alone and roughly half outside of the home. This leaves a very small overlap of meals eaten with friends and family at home. Cooking and eating with others whose company you enjoy provides common ground for positive, enriching discussion, which in itself can improve mood and ease anxiety.
TIP: Strive to find additional meaning and purpose with meals. Dine out or take out fewer than three meals per week.
Focus on Your Food
Consider how much you and the people you know rush and multitask through the day. This includes mealtime, during which everyone seems to watch TV, check e-mail or skim their social media streams. Unplug to improve your connection with food and enhance mood. Talk about the day with family members. Share what you learned, moments of gratitude and kind gestures you gave or received that day.
TIP: Sit down at a dining table for at least one meal per day and unplug from all technology. Focus on nothing more than eating and connecting with others during meals.
Remember, consistent, long-term healthy eating habits reduce anxiety more than any single food, drink or supplement. Equally as important, connecting with food and with other people encourages a positive relationship with food and meal times. For optimal health and stress reduction, prioritize consuming healthy, diverse foods and find comfort in connecting with food and others.
Great Pack Recommendation
I finally found a great waist pack that’s well made and roomy enough to carry your stuff. Check it out here!
Got Neck Pain?
Watch this video and learn how to get relief!
Keep finding Joyinmovement, and have a month of thanks-giving!