I have vivid memories of my many heightened experiences with anxiety. Triggered by an event (which many times was outside of my awareness), my relentless negative self-talk would start up and be something I could not stop. Typically, it was worries of a negative outcome, a perceived failure or an anticipated altercation with someone. Certainly the thought, I’m not good enough, was at the centre of most of my internal dialogue.
Interestingly enough, when I felt anxious, I took on behaviour as if a real predator was actually threatening me. My eyes would dart back and forth, desperately looking for the danger. I was acting as if a prowling lion was stalking toward me. I have now learned that this is a completely normal behavioural response to feelings of fear or anxiety. This behaviour is hardwired into us; the mind cannot tell the difference between being scared due to an actual predator, or from something imagined.
After years of trying to manage my anxiety, I discovered if I defocused my eyes while experiencing anxiety my emotions would calm down. A wonderful sense of connection would begin and my heart rate would start to slow. I soon began to defocus my eyes at work, when I was feeling anxious, or at home when things got overwhelming. It was a great take along when I was on long flights to reduce any sense of nervousness.
Technique for Reducing Anxiety: Defocusing Your Eyes
Here is all you need to know to start doing this technique yourself. Pick an object to focus on somewhere near you. It can be anything, like a chair or book. The size or shape of the object doesn’t matter.
Next, stare at the object with all of your concentration. While you are staring, take note of what happens to the muscles in your face and also to your breathing. Then, instead of staring at the object, start to “look” at it, while allowing yourself to notice the other objects in the room without looking directly at them, and while maintaining your gaze on the primary object. What do you notice about your tension and your breathing? They have decreased, haven’t they?
You can use this technique anytime you feel overwhelming emotions creeping up and certainly if you struggle with anxiety. You will soon see that you can reduce the negative feelings within your body, allowing you to behave and think differently. And isn’t that all that we are searching for? An easy and healthy way to feel differently now!
To our health and wellbeing,