Handy little tricks to help you manage your mind in life and sport


When we feel stressed, anxious or nervous we have a tendency to become โ€˜tunnel-visionedโ€™. We focus on the point right in front of us and see all the details.

๐ŸšจThis tunnel vision is linked to the arousal of our sympathetic nervous system โ€“ the fight or flight response that triggers adrenalin and can make us agitated, nervous an anxious.

However research has shown that when we broaden our field of vision and become aware of what is around us we can engage parts of the brain that can actually change our emotions, physical feelings and our reactions.

๐Ÿง  This peripheral vision or peripheral awareness activates the parasympathetic nervous system โ€“ responsible for calmness and relaxation. By becoming more aware of the space all around you and directing your attention to it you can block out anxiety, nervousness and stress. By using it you can chill out. You can even feel muscles in your jaw, and shoulders and face relax when using peripheral vision.

๐Ÿˆ It can also improve sports skills: a cricketer can better track a ball using peripheral vision; a footballer can better judge the run of a team mate; and a formula one driver can better assess overtaking opportunities. The England rugby team deemed peripheral awareness skills so important it used a peripheral vision coach in the 2003 World Cup.


  • ๐Ÿ‘€ Look forward at a point in front of you. Keep looking at that point but become aware of everything around you – to the sides and behind. You can use your hands to help if youโ€™re new to this. Hold your hands up and move them out to the side of you and keep moving them till you canโ€™t see them. But donโ€™t look at them, just keep your awareness and attention on them. 
  • ๐Ÿ‘€ Put your awareness even further round behind you โ€“ be aware of the space and sounds behind you.
  • ๐Ÿ‘€ To test if itโ€™s working, while youโ€™re in full peripheral vision think of something or someone that would normally arouse irritation or anxiety or stress. It is likely you canโ€™t maintain that feeling. Now try the opposite and think of something or someone you really like. You should get a good feeling easily.

The effects of peripheral vision are extremely effective and can be an instant fix to a stressful situation. You can do it any time and in any place – you donโ€™t have to use your hands!! 

๐Ÿง˜ So each time you take a break from the computer or when youโ€™re getting stressed in a queue just practise your peripheral awareness and notice the difference in how you feel. Practise it often so it becomes part of your toolbox of relaxation techniques. 

NEXT: Mind chatter: what does your inner voice sound like and how can you change it? ๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ—ฃ

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