Essentially, “tromboning” means focusing in and out on a certain object (sort of like how a trombone slides forward and backward). Not only does this practice help strengthen your eye muscles—it’s like “pushups” for the focusing system, Appelbaum says—but it also heightens your sense of peripheral awareness, which is great for quelling anxiety.
“When we feel claustrophobic and we feel our body’s reaction to stress and we tense up, a lot can be done with relaxing focus, opening up periphery, and shifting how we are taking in that experience,” he adds. Think about it: With anxiety, many of us experience “tunnel vision” and lose peripheral awareness. When you have the ability to zoom out, it can almost “trick” your brain into relieving that anxiety.
But back to the tromboning practice: “Take a target up close with small letters on it, bring it as close as [you] can until it gets a little blurry. Stop, try and make it clear, and then bring it backward,” says Appelbaum. “You’re almost tromboning that zone. The more you practice that, the closer you’ll be able to get that image.” Feel free to start with one eye covered and alternate, if that’s easier.