Practice peripheral vision

In his laboratory at Stanford University, neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman investigates the effects of vision on our nervous system and stress levels.

Dr. Huberman and his colleagues found out that we spend the greatest majority of the day focusing on a single item, such as the computer screen, our phone or a person (if we are lucky enough to have a face to face meeting these days). This form of focused vision is extremely energy demanding. Practiced without appropriate breaks, it increases stress levels, consumes a lot of energy and tires us out.

The counterbalance to highly focused vision is what he calls panoramic vision, also named peripheral vision. With peripheral vision, you practice the opposite: you relax your gaze, look out as far as possible and aim to focus on nothing in particular. Without moving your eyes or neck, you will notice a much wider field of vision, from one corner of the eye to the other and you may even be able to glimpse your own body.

Peripheral vision gives the focused brain a much needed break, calms the nervous system, restores balance and helps us re-focus when we return to tunnel vision, directed at the object(s) right in front of us. It is the essential balancing act for a day full of convergent – and tiring – vision aimed at a single point.

Check out Dr. Huberman’s clear explanation on the two types of vision and how to practice panoramic vision here (00:00-05:30).