A quick way to reduce stress using your peripheral vision

Do you need quick way to reduce stress?

Sometimes you need a quick way to reduce stress and be able to relax. It may be useful when you are in a meeting or giving a presentation. There may be other situations when you are anxious or under pressure.

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Learn to relax before giving presentations

In these circumstances it may not be possible to have a lie down or use other relaxation techniques. These may include a long drawn out progressive relaxation process or a calming visualisation practice.

A few years ago I learnt about the benefits of accessing one’s peripheral vision. Click here to read one of the many articles which explain the process and background.

In my hypnotherapy practice I have often taught my clients to use their peripheral vision as a way to enable them to relax quickly and easily.

I have also given the technique to busy executives who need to calm themselves before meetings or conference calls.

Here is the process for reducing stress by accessing your peripheral vision

Read through this a couple of times first so you can remember this simple process.

Look at the wall opposite you and find a point straight ahead and a little above eye level. Continue to look at this point using soft focus vision until you notice that your vision begins to distort a little.  You may notice that the room goes a little darker or the area around the spot becomes fuzzier as you develop a kind of tunnel vision.

Now while still keeping your eyes on that spot on the wall slowly begin to expand your vision. As you do this you notice what is at the edges of your field of vision without moving your eyes. Become aware of what is at 9 o’clock, 3 0’clock, 11 o’clock and so on. You may find that you can be aware of what is on opposite sides simultaneously.

After a short time you will notice you are paying more attention to what you can see at the margins of your visual awareness. Your awareness of what is to the side and behind you increases even to the extent that you can see more than 180 degrees.

As you remain in this state, you will notice that your breathing has slowed down and become deeper and that the muscles in your face and the rest of your body have started to relax.

Once you are relaxed you come back by returning your field of vision to normal.

You only need to go into peripheral vision a little way and for a short time to enable the relaxation response.

How does peripheral vision work?

Staring at the spot initiates a form of tunnel vision, which is common when we watch TV, use a computer, engage in conversation or read etc.  This is similar to the tunnel vision we get when we are anxious, worried or obsessed about something.

For example, if you drive, have you noticed how other people tend to ‘cut you up’ or pull in front of you more dangerously when you are stressed?  This is because being stressed results in your field of vision being narrowed.

Activating your peripheral vision however activates your parasympathetic nervous system.  This is the part of your nervous system that relaxes you and slows you down. It helps your mind, body and emotions come back into balance.

Learn to activate your peripheral vision

Learn to activate your peripheral vision

In physiological terms, the parasympathetic system is concerned with conservation and restoration of energy. It causes a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure. It facilitates digestion, the absorption of nutrients and consequently the excretion of waste products.

There is also a benefit for people who habitually indulge in a lot of internal dialogue because peripheral vision appears to reduce this or to stop it altogether.

Many people have found peripheral vision to reduce anxiety when speaking in public. This is because it allows them to see the whole audience and possibly adapt more easily as they notice how they are reacting.

It can also help athletes, business people and anyone else who needs a quick way to reduce stress.


If you have eye problems, particularly with your peripheral vision please talk to your GP or optician before trying this exercise.

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