If health is about balance, then it can’t be all about relaxation. Besides, who can really relax before a job interview, or their wedding, or a big game? As one expert puts it, “get amped and don’t screw up” is a great mindset strategy for handling nerves.
Because ANS activity is linked to our eyes, eye-activation exercises can be a great way to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. In fact, NHL goalkeeper Connor Hellebuyck does a (fairly involved) series of eye exercises as part of his pregame ritual. Try these next time you need to amp up your readiness!
1. Near/Far Activation: Head outside and pick something to look at that’s far away but close enough to see clearly. Then hold a thumb up in front of your face at arm’s length. Focus on the thumb for a moment, then shift your focus to the farther-away object for a moment. Switch back and forth 10 to 15 times.
2. Moving Thumb: Hold a thumbs-up position out at arm’s length in front of you. In this exercise, you want to keep your head still and follow your thumbnail with your eyes only. Slowly rotate your thumb from the up position to the side and then to a thumbs-down position and back to the start. Do this 10 to 15 times, gradually increasing the speed of rotation, as needed.
3. Moving Body: From a standing position, pick a point on the wall across the room from you. Stare at that point as you move a few steps to the left, then to the right and back to center while keeping your head still, letting your eyes move to maintain focus on the point on the wall. Repeat this five to 10 times. You also can start this exercise in a chair and change position to standing and then to squatting down.
Video credit: Iokanan VFX Studios
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