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Tips on Looking After Your Eyes

September 20th, 2017 / View in own page?

This week (18-24 September) is National Eye Health Week which encourages people to look after their eyes and shows the importance of doing so. Here at LOOK, we wanted to get involved so thought that we would share some simple tips with you on looking after your eyes.

A report published by the RNIB, states that 250 people start to lose their sight every day and 1 in 5 people will live with sight loss in their lifetime. These are just some of the statistics that show that eye health really matters.

There are many simple things that you can do to take better care of your eyes.

Quit smoking

Smoking can cause many health problems, including the risk of some eye conditions. Tobacco can damage the eye.

 

Eat healthy

You may hear this all the time, but eating healthy can help protect your sight.

 

Think of your eyes when using a computer

If you spend several hours a day on a computer, remember the 20-20-20 rule: look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Also, make sure you blink whilst you’re using a computer, as this helps to keep your eyes moist. Computer screens can make your eyes feel tired, itchy, cause blurred vision, cause headaches and computers can even cause eye strain.

 

Protect your eyes in the sun

Wear sunglasses when you are exposed to the sun. This can prevent some eye conditions such as cataract. When you are buying some new sunglasses, make sure they have a CE, British Standard, or UV 400 mark as this means that they have good protection.

 

Watch your weight

Obesity can put you at higher risk of some eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

 

Look for changes in your vision.

These may include: double vision, hazy vision, difficulty seeing in low light, red eyes, frequent flashes of light, floaters, and eye pain. If you experience any of these then it is important to speak to an eye specialist.

 

Have regular eye tests

It is recommended that you should have an eye test every two years, unless you are told otherwise. If you haven’t had an eye test within the last two years then why not book one this national eye health week?

We know that not all eye conditions can be prevented, but it is very important to look after your eyes. Eye health is just as important as physical or mental health!

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Transitioning to University

September 6th, 2017 / View in own page?

September is often the month of transitions: transitioning to a new school or college, transitioning to university or starting a new job. Whatever it may be, change can be scary, but it can also be positive. In this blog post, Brigitta discusses her thoughts and feelings about change, and she also shares some top tips for blind or visually impaired students starting university. So if you’re a fresher, then you may find this post helpful!

 

Change can cause mixed feelings. Some people will be excited about change, some people will be nervous about change. But whatever your feelings about it, change can be a positive thing.

In the past change was scary to me. When I started secondary school I was terrified, the same with college, university and even starting a new job. On top of these changes I had the added challenge of making these changes with my visual impairment. However, every time I made these changes I eventually settled down and my surroundings began to become more familiar.

My biggest challenge so far has been university. I study Anthropology at Oxford Brookes. I chose this university for the course and because the support network here is very good for disabled students. As a VI student, finding a university with good disability support was important. I needed to make sure the university would support me and provide me with what I needed. Researching your university and getting in touch with their support team is something I would really recommend doing. Then you can discuss with them what you will need and how they can aid you.

If you’re moving into halls or shared residency when you start university, I think being open and honest with your new flatmates is always a good thing and even breaks down a couple of awkward barriers. From telling your new flatmates about your visual impairment you can ask them for help, such as reading a label or using the cooker. Don’t be afraid to be open about your condition. This is true in lectures and seminars too.

My biggest and scariest challenge for me was finding my way around university and finding my lecture rooms. I spoke to my disability adviser and they helped immensely. I had someone show me around the main campus and where some of my lectures could be. Then they set up for someone to meet me at my halls and walk me to my lecture room for the first few weeks. If you’re worried about finding your lectures, I would highly recommend you to ask the disability support at your university to set up a guide for you in the first few weeks.

Student tip: buy a pizza wheel. Best thing I took with me.

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Transitioning to a New School

July 31st, 2017 / View in own page?

Many of you will be receiving your GCSE or A-level results in the next few weeks and will then be moving onto the next steps, taking those important transitions for your future. Whether you’re moving on to college, sixth form, university, an apprenticeship, work, or something different, it’s important to feel prepared and to know that you aren’t on your own. When you have a visual impairment or another disability, there can often be a lot to think about, as well as added preparations which can cause you to feel stressed and anxious, but also excited.

The following video was recorded and produced by Harriet who is one of our fabulous mentees as part of our mentoring project. She is currently preparing to take the transition to a new school to do her A-levels, as well as having the added pressures of having both a hearing and visual impairment.

In this video, Harriet discusses her experience of an induction at her new school and gives tips on preparing for a transition such as choosing which school or college to attend, deciding on the right subjects and meeting new people.

Do you have any tips for blind and visually impaired people who maybe going through a transition? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter. From all of us here at LOOK-UK, good luck to those of you who may be embarking on a new chapter of your life in the next few months.

Check out Harriet’s video below!

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Fasting during Ramadan

June 21st, 2017 / View in own page?

My Name is Khafsa Ghulam and I am one of the Mentors on the Look Mentoring Project. I am 27 and am in full time work. I am also Muslim and have been asked to share my experiences of fasting during the month of Ramadan.

Khafsa, this month's blogger

Khafsa, this month’s blogger

So, what is Ramadan? Well, in short, it is a time when Muslims, who are able to fast do so, from sunrise till sunset for a whole month. The aim of fasting is to help us grow closer to God by engaging in acts of worship, such as praying, reading qur’an and work on refining our character.

 

This year, Ramadan is from the 27th May until the 25th June. I would say this year is not so bad so far. One of the challenges of fasting this time of year is juggling a full-time job and fasting the long hours. Every year I worry about how I will cope, but I always manage it.  Despite these challenges, I always find that the month helps me grow spiritually, I spend a lot more time praying and just the time alone with my thoughts really helps me to clear my head. Often, we become so busy doing day to day things that we don’t take time out to reflect on our own thoughts. Even if you are not religious, I would definitely recommend just taking 5 minutes out of your day, no technology, no TV, just sit and really think about what your struggles are, what you are grateful for. The impact is so refreshing and really lifts your spirits. On a daily basis, I pray, and I honestly believe that just simply disconnecting from what is going on around me is really refreshing.

 

I also love Ramadan as it is probably the only time that we all eat together as a family. Normally we all eat at different times, so it is really lovely to enjoy both Sehri (pre-dawn meal) and Iftr (breaking the fast) with family. However, for those people who live on their own, they either break the fast on their own or go to the mosque to be amongst people in the community.

 

I know a few blind people who live on their own, and who go to the mosque to break their fast. However, some have commented and said that they haven’t felt 100% comfortable in the environment as others haven’t interacted with them. Sometimes, people are awkward about helping them to get food, not because they have a problem with them per say, but purely because they don’t know how to help.

 

An additional challenge that blind people can face during Ramadan is a sleeping pattern that really makes their day challenging. For those of you who don’t know, some blind people can have a condition called Non-24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder. This essentially means that due to them having no light perception, their body clock cannot be properly regulated. Getting day light is essential as it helps our body to regulate our body clock. So, the effect of an unsteady body clock together with a complete change in routine really can impact a person. In previous years, I have found it hard to establish and maintain a routine, but I seem to be getting on alright this year, so let’s see how it all goes.

 

Hope you enjoyed this and to anyone who is observing the month of Ramadan, just want to say HAPPY Ramadan.

 

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Tips on Coping With Stress

May 15th, 2017 / View in own page?

We want to create a resource of tips on coping with stress.

We know that a lot of you will currently be going through a stressful time with exams, deadlines, transitions, and other things life may throw at you.

The LOOK team, bloggers, mentors and mentees, have put together our best tips for dealing with stress in these situations and hope they’re of use.

  • Try your best to recognise when you are in the middle of an angry outburst or thoughts.
  • Allow emotions to be present. Cry, scream, shout, but not at anyone. Be present in acknowledging the feelings, but don’t let them take over.
  • Don’t use expletives or negativity when expressing these thoughts.
  • Breathe deeply and think only of what your breathing is doing.
  • Read up on mindfulness or meditation, and try putting it into practice.
  • If you feel a head-ache or migraine coming on then STOP and relax.
  • Learn to recognise the signs of a head-ache or migraine and stop before one comes on.
  • Distract yourself by yourself focussing on something small.
  • Exercise, it releases endorphins.
  • Eat well and drink lots of water.
  • Listen to music. Blast out one of your happy songs or cry to a sad song! Check out our LOOK relaxed playlist.
  • Text/call someone such as a close friend or family member. Just talking things through can make you feel better.
  • Find a task that needs a lot of focus and thoughtfulness, maybe such as writing.
  • Write down or record your thoughts and feelings, this can be a release and help process mixed up emotions. Look back over it and you may notice any patterns or triggers you may have been unaware of.
  • Make lists – a to-do list of things that you feel stressed or anxious about. In terms of to-do lists, prioritise what’s most important and what needs doing first. It’s also good to focus on positivity – make a list of the things that make you feel good, and your favourite things. It’s a good way of balancing and prioritizing everything that you need to do.
  • Do one of your favourite hobbies.
  • Watch your favourite TV programme.
  • Have a nice cup of tea, hot chocolate or your favourite drink, and enjoy the 10 minutes to sit and drink it.
  • Think of something positive. What are you proud of? What have you achieved so far?
  • What are your passions? Find them and immerse yourself within them.
  • Have a long bath or shower.
  • Lose yourself within a good book.
  • Take some time out for yourself – self-care is so important.
  • Take time away from the things that are making you stressed.
  • Smile! Yes, forcing yourself to actively smile makes you feel better!
  • Dog meditating
  • These are our tips for coping with stress. If you have any to add then let us know. Email youth@look-uk.org or contact us on Facebook or Twitter we’d love to hear from you.

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Sight Loss, Stress and Depression

May 4th, 2017 / View in own page?

Today’s post is from disability blogger, Sass. We are very excited that Sass is part of our look blogging team.

In this post she talks openly about her battle with depression, and how sight loss can cause stress.

 

Sass blog logo

 

Did you know that 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness?

Were you aware that there is a positive correlation between sight loss and depression?

I’ve been diagnosed as clinically depressed since 2015

Through the support of my partner Gary and my GP, I sat and talked candidly about my erratic mood swings, lack of energy, motivation and my constant exhaustion. We talked at length about my symptoms and the options available to me.

I opted to go on antidepressants as I have previously had counseling.

Antidepressants aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. However, for me they have been invaluable; they have improved all the symptoms I mentioned above, and, most importantly, it’s helped me focus on the bigger picture.

My deterioration in vision since the age of 14 has been a source of vexation and frustration for me.

I hated relinquishing control, having to ask friends and family for help, needing things like worksheets adapted and continuous hospital appointments.

I just wanted to be normal.

But I wasn’t.

I walked into people and inanimate objects, I would knock things over, not be able to read anything without a magnifying glass and so many other things.

I’ve always been a perfectionist so asking for help or embarrassing myself publicly, always sent me into a spiral of stress.

Over the years this stress manifested into rage and, because of this, I pushed people away or pushed them to breaking point.

At the time I genuinely believed my outbursts were justified and acceptable. I believed I had to fight: fight for support, fight to be heard and fight to prove myself.

There was always a reason, an excuse, a situation. I couldn’t see that my behavior, thought processes and even actions, were out of control.

It wasn’t until I was at University studying psychology and having a truly fantastic network of friends around me that I recognised all of my grievances and anger were due to me losing my sight.

I still had my moments but they were fewer and far between. I would get riled up by the little things; dropping something on the floor and spending 5 minutes looking for it, tripping up kerbs or spilling my drink everywhere.

I learned to laugh it off, reminding myself that in the grand scheme of things they really weren’t such a big deal.

Yet as my sight deteriorated further and these menial things seemed to happen more frequently, I realised I needed some support.

And that’s when I rang the RNIB counseling support line, and registered myself on the waiting list.

I wanted to talk through my problems, how to acknowledge my frustrations but not let it control me.

I wanted to know how I would manage with my impending sight loss and what techniques I could use to make my life and mental state healthier.

The waiting list was so long that by the time my first counseling session happened, I had already lost my remaining vision.

My counselor was fantastic. Although I had lost my sight, and the worst had happened to me, she listened, empathized and talked through my anxieties and frustrations with me.

The counseling was invaluable to me and it wasn’t until the beginning of 2015 that depression decided to rear its ugly head again.

It took me a long time to acknowledge that I was changing and becoming angry all over again. It was always the small things: walking into doorways, pouring the kettle and missing my cup, dirty dishes and not noticing I wasn’t holding my cup straight so hot tea spilled over me and my furniture.

All those little things added up to one big thing: dealing with my sight loss.

That is why I started antidepressants. I was chemically imbalanced, so why not try chemicals to restore my balance?

I still have my down days, and that’s ok. It’s about acknowledging my stress levels and doing something about it.

Constant stress can lead to depression so make sure self-care is at the top of your priority list.

Depression is an illness, a brutal thought process that truly can take over your body and mind. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Establish your stress points and find a way to combat them. Only you know your triggers and only you can save yourself from stress.

Think positive, stay positive!

 

Useful link:

RNIB Counselling Service

 

Sass has written a post on her personal blog about sight loss and depression, some of you may find it of use:

Let’s Talk About Depression

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