Trauma therapist Lauren Aurer of Steadfast Counseling described how a highlighter can help to assuage the anxiety of a panic attack. She explained to hold the highlighter (or any other object) in front, focus on it for a few seconds, and then shift gaze to look beyond it. Repeat that process several times, and the eye movement will help calm the panic. This is a technique of brainspotting, a therapy that uses a patient’s visual field to treat trauma.
What you’re doing is you’re activating your occularcardia reflex, which calms down your vagus nerve and regulates your breathing.