A great way to reduce stress in the heat of the moment, and one that often gets overlooked (pun intended), is practicing different vision techniques. Our vision has a direct effect on our states of mind and levels of stress.
For example, we stress ourselves out when focus hard on an object close up for a long period of time. Think about a computer screen or a smartphone – the harder the focus, the more strain on the brain. This kind of focus is taxing and requires a lot of energy. It’s important that we take frequent breaks from our electronics throughout the day to help prevent this kind of stress.
An easy way to do this is to simply look off in the distance. Ideally, find a point on or near the horizon, or as far away as possible, and just gaze for a few minutes. This simple change in vision helps to calm the brain and reduce stress.
Simple Vision Techniques
Another simple change in vision, in the heat of a stressful moment, is to focus on our periphery. So if we look at a point in space, say 20-30 feet away in an office building, for example, we would want to focus on what is in our peripheral visual field. We would want to take note of the surrounding desks or chairs or people – take in the entire visual field without moving our eyes or head. Again, this helps to relax the body.
Another technique involves slowly moving our eyes in a side to side fashion. This helps to calm the amygdala (threat detection center in the brain involved in stress and fear) and relaxes us. This technique is used in EMDR, a clinical practice I talked about in this post.
Finally, a great way to relax is to simply turn your vision off for a few seconds. Just close your eyes! By also incorporating some of the breathing techniques discussed in this post, as well as some postural changes, we can quickly and easily decrease our stress by also closing our eyes. Please, and obviously, don’t do this while driving. Or in any situation where you could inflict harm on yourself or others.
Practicing these various vision techniques is a simple and effective way to better manage stress. They are easy and only take a few seconds. Incorporate some breathing practices for even greater results!
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