Optometry Practice

Christl Huber M.D.
Optometry · Natural Medicine

Doing-nothing is good for the brain and for the eyes


Spring is taking its time this year, but bushes and trees delight us with fresh greenery and invite us to take a walk. It is nothing new that being in nature is relaxing. Why this is so, scientists have been working on for a long time. Especially after the pandemic and the lockdown, it became clear how important being in nature is for health, preferably as a relaxed exercise like a walk.

Exercise in nature

Researchers at the University of Irvine in California have now discovered that so-called "doing-nothing" relaxes the brain. This also applies to the eyes. In our everyday life we are used to constantly focusing on things and sharpening our vision. Especially at close range when working on the computer or when we rummage around in the apps, but also when driving.

Peripheral vision relaxes

Focusing and seeing sharply is exhausting and quickly tires the eyes. On the other hand, looking into the distance without focusing on things relaxes the eyes. Not concentrating on anything and simply letting your thoughts run with “doing nothing” means not focusing with your eyes and letting your gaze wander into the distance.

What happens when you "do nothing?”

Important thoughts are distracted by "unimportant" thoughts. Not thinking anything is often not that easy. This works best with "unimportant" positive impressions in nature. If the brain is not focused on a specific task, it switches to an automatic "do-nothing" mode - including the eyes and the visual center. Vision switches to "scanning", a rather blurry wandering around. It is known today that this relaxation process leads to new thoughts and creativity.

Nature makes you happy

One rejoices in the awakening nature, the peripheral vision notices a bird, a pretty plant or moving clouds and the visual center sends this positive visual impression into the consciousness. The happiness hormone endorphin is released in the brain. The nervous system switches to relaxation. Brain and eyes relax and are ready to go back to work and sharp vision.

Small walk with a big effect

It is not known exactly why spending time in nature has this effect. It is believed that the interaction of the sensory organs sends an impression of relaxation to the brain. And the eyes play an important role in this. In addition, a relaxed walk is good exercise. Even light physical activity has a positive effect on the brain and eyes and supplies them with oxygen and nutrients.