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Holiday stress got you seeing red?

The holidays are all about delicious food, spirited festivities, and quality time with friends and family. Unfortunately the days and weeks leading up to this special time of year are often filled with crowds, chaos, and stress. Because of this, we often lose sight of important things—namely our health. Our exercise routine disappears, our kitchens fill up with baked goods in preparation for holiday parties, and our stress levels rise.

This festive time of the year can disrupt our normal routines, causing changes in our body, behavior, and feelings. As stress mounts, you may experience headaches, exhaustion, and an increase in blood pressure which can have negative effects on your vision.

"It's not uncommon for me to see these types of complaints from patients," says Dr. Roger Phelps, a VSP doctor with OjaiEyes Optometry in Southern California. "I typically suggest that they get plenty of sleep to avoid headaches, dry eyes, and blurry vision." Stress can also trigger temporary eye twitching, which will likely recede once the stressors are gone. If eye twitching lasts for more than a couple of weeks, Dr. Phelps recommends seeing your VSP doctor. To protect your eyes—and body—from holiday stress, read on for some simple ways to relax and focus on your well-being.

Sneak it in whenever you can.

  • When shopping, park as far away as possible for a brisk walk.
  • Bundle up and take the dog out for a fast-paced walk.
  • Take the stairs at work or stop by the gym for a quick workout on the way home.
  • Consider doing yoga or tai chi to combine exercise with relaxation.

With all of the holiday temptations, it's hard to think about eating healthy. But there are ways to enjoy your favorite comfort foods without feeling guilty.

  • Choose lean protein (think chicken and fish) and vegetables, and avoid fried dishes and heavy sauces.
  • Holiday parties are big diet busters. Use a smaller plate and fill it up half-way.
  • Split a piece of pie with someone. Choose lighter desserts with fresh fruit and watch your portion sizes here too—one slice of pie may really be two servings.

Take time for yourself and relax when you can.

  • If you tend to get sick during this time of year, take time off to recuperate.
  • When you feel the strain and stress build up, stop for a few moments and take some deep breaths.
  • Try incorporating meditation into your routine for another change of pace.

Take care of yourself this season and you'll enjoy the holidays more! Curb your stress by keeping up with a realistic exercise routine, be conscious about your nutrition, and relax. You, and your loved ones will be glad you did!