Use your body as your coach for lowering anxiety and healing stress conditions
Biofeedback Defined: Certain measures of an individual’s biology in relation to stress presented in real time and increments of low to high arousal as well as showing stress patterns. This is useful for training to gain self- awareness and self-control. Advanced biofeedback equipment uses an elaborate computer program, demonstrating a variety of moment-by-moment mental and physical processes occurring.
Through biology feedback / self-awareness training, an individual can learn to alter such physiological processes, toward obtaining a more relaxed mind and body, as well as learning a healthier response pattern to stress and challenges of daily living. Training includes stress management strategies to apply while using the feedback. The following are examples of different ways biofeedback can help.
- Muscle Biofeedback (EMG): Muscle tension is a common problem contributing to headaches, jaw pain (TMJ), back and neck pain, among other muscle-related pain conditions. EMG biofeedback includes the attachment of sensors to muscles sites that are tense or in a contracted pain cycle, measuring actual electrical events of surface muscles involved – – muscles often out of an individual’s awareness until the triggering of the pain cycle. Biofeedback provides real evidence of tension problem areas, conditioned habits or responses to stress and other activities that contribute to problems leading to the identified pain (i.e., tensing up under stress), offering a means to observe how to reduce or eliminate muscle tension patterns through the
- Peripheral Temperature: A strategy for measuring physiological response to anxious thoughts and emotions through observing hands and feet temperature. This is based on the theory that the blood vessels throughout the body are constricted or dilated through smooth muscles surrounding their diameter. Blood is warm, and as the smooth muscles relax, warm blood flow increases to the periphery (including hands and feet), and this is regulated by the same system that regulates the anxiety response. Warm hands and feet often mirror a relaxed mind / body, and cold extremities may indicate anxiousness. Learning strategies to warm hands and feet serve as a backdoor approach for lowering anxiety by influencing the system that lowers stress arousal. In addition, these strategies often help with such vascular influenced conditions as migraine headaches, hypertension, Reynaud’s Disease, and carpal
- Galvanic Skin Response (GSR): The skin contains multiple sweat glands that show response to anxious emotions by excreting sweat, which increases conductance of electrical impulses to the outer surfaces of the skin. Biofeedback placement on the fingers provides this immediate feedback and measurement of both fast acting as well as stable anxiety responses. This approach offers a means for demonstrating how thoughts and emotions produce such a cause and effect momentary stress reaction. Sweaty, clammy palms are often indicative of anxiety, and the feedback along with stress reduction strategies offers a tool for lowering this arousal through awareness. This can be helpful in treating panic attacks, phobias, anticipation anxiety, social anxiety, among other anxiety-related conditions.
- Heart Rate and Respiratory (Breathing): For many individuals, heart rate tends to increase with anxiety. Additionally, breathing improperly can contribute to a variety of stress related physical and mental challenges. Heart rate variability training can help an individual learn to lower anxiety through breathing strategies that are often immediately effective. This training can also help to improve heart health, teach and enhance proper breathing, and bring calm balance and vitality to the mind and
The true benefit of using biofeedback is to master the mind / body connection – – how we react mentally and physically to stress and life challenges. Through training, an individual can learn to generalize self-awareness and stress-reduction skills in daily life. Through the development of self-awareness of internal cues and feelings about all the ways the body reacts, and awareness of thinking and breathing, it becomes easier to know what to target during stress, and how to alleviate a stress response effectively. These strategies can enhance poise and confidence during important events, performances, and for general wellness. The ultimate goal is to learn how to reduce anxiety and feel great, anywhere, anytime.
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