Soft Eyes for Less Stress

Soft Eyes for Less Stress

Our vision can be focused in two ways - either foveal or peripheral.

Foveal vision is central focused vision. We use this a lot for example, to stare at our computer screen or our mobile phone, when driving, talking to someone, watching TV, reading a book, etc.

Foveal vision is linked to arousal of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) - the part of the ‘involuntary’ or autonomic nervous system (ANS) associated with activity, adrenaline and the ‘fight or flight’ stress response. You’ve probably noticed that when you’re in danger your focus narrows to take in only the person, situation, thing that’s threatening your wellbeing.

Peripheral vision is the field of vision you have that’s broader and, without moving your head, you’re able to notice, what is to your left and right, and above and below.

Peripheral vision is associated with arousal of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) - the part of the nervous system associated with relaxation, calmness and healing.

When we consciously shift into peripheral vision we can switch off the stress response because, either the SNS is on and, the PNS is off, or vice versa. Both systems can’t be on at the same time.

So shifting your focus from fovial (tunnel vision) to peripheral vision is a quick and simple way to shift your state when you’re feeling anxious or stressed. You are sending a non-conscious message to your survival system that you are safe. There are no threats in your immediate environment.

And when you combine peripheral vision with an abdominal breathing technique like the 7/11 breathing technique you are powerfully flicking the fight or flight off switch!