Biofeedback, A Relaxation Technique to Fight Stress

March 19, 2021
Have you ever heard about biofeedback? Stick around: today's article will discuss its benefits for those interested in managing their stress.

You’ve never heard about biofeedback? Well, stick around then. It’s a simple concept and its health benefits are many. So, it might be time to give it a try if you’ve been experiencing stress for a while and nothing else has worked for you.

Biofeedback can certainly help you. Ok, but let’s begin by explaining what this concept is? What’s it for? Well, it’s a type of therapy that uses sensors attached to the body to measure bodily functions. This is to determine your level of stress.

The way it helps is by giving you a better understanding of how your body works so you can manage stress. Let’s go deeper.

How does biofeedback work?

Biofeedback works simply. Sensors placed in specific places on your body, for example, your earlobes or scalp, send information about you. These must always be in contact with your skin.

The interesting part is you must be active. What does this mean? Well, biofeedback isn’t a test in which you lie still. It’s one in which you’ll watch the results on a screen,  in real-time, to be aware of how you’re reacting at all times.

Furthermore, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital emphasizes this is an interactive process in which you can achieve the kind of connection with your body you’ve never achieved before.

Find out more about Muscle Pain and Tension Due to Stress

Biofeedback methods

These are tailored to individual needs and, depending on your health problems, you’ll need one or the other for optimal results.

So, it’s a good idea to have a personal interview to find out what you need before you undergo it. This is because stress can affect you in different ways.

A woman in pain.
Stress affects all parts of so it’s not a minor issue; don’t underestimate it.

Brain waves

This is one of the most recommended biofeedback methods for those who experience migraines or headaches due to stress. A technician places sensors on the scalp or temples and you get to see your brain waves thanks to an electroencephalogram.

It’s an interesting way to learn how stress affects your brain. It’s pretty amazing, indeed!

Breathing

Another method focuses on breathing when stress hinders your breathing dynamics or if you feel like you’re choking. A technician places the sensors on the abdomen and chest to find out what your breathing pattern and frequency are like.

Heart rate

A heart that beats too fast (tachycardia) can find answers in biofeedback. You can find out what your heart rate is like and how it varies through sensors placed on your chest, lower torso, and wrists. It may be that your heart starts beating more frequently, getting ahead of itself, just before stress hits you.

Muscle contraction

Cramps, tense muscles, contractures are all part of the stress that can wreak real havoc on your body and biofeedback can address it too.

A technician places sensors on skeletal muscles to closely observe the electrical activity that’s causing the muscles to contract.

Sweat gland activity

You can observe what the activity of your sweat glands is like with biofeedback. As you know, you may sweat more than usual or sweat a lot due to stress.

The technician will place the sensors around your fingers or in the palm of your wrists and you get to analyze how your body responds to stress.

Temperature

Finally, another method of biofeedback is to measure your temperature, it tends to either drop or rise with stress. So how do you think your body would respond? You can find out with sensors placed on your fingers.

Do you know How Stress Affects the Heart?

Benefits of biofeedback

Surely you can imagine the health benefits of biofeedback now that you know a little more about it. Let’s discuss them in more detail anyhow. The methods outlined above mainly help you have an idea of how your body works and how it responds to stress.

How can this be useful for you?

Well, it can help you learn to anticipate an episode of stress or anxiety so you can work on your breathing by taking a walk or trying to clear your head in some other way. This is how you can avoid what you already know is going to happen to you, be it tachycardia, shortness of breath, nervousness, or headaches.

Biofeedback is also good for those who need to solve their sleeping problems, and better manage nausea and incontinence (urinary or fecal) that are sometimes linked to stress. In fact, some studies report an effect on constipation.

As you can see, knowing your body will help you be more aware of how to manage it.

A man undergoing a stress relaxation technique.
It’s easier to manage stress if you can recognize the changes in your body when confronted with a stressor.

Contraindications of biofeedback

Despite all the advantages of this type of therapy, it’s normal for there to be contraindications. The Mayo Clinic warns that:

  • The sensors used in this type of therapy can generate an allergy in sensitive skin or those with a disorder. Thus, consult your doctor beforehand to find out if it’s safe for you if you tend to experience eczema or dermatitis.
  • Biofeedback may not give you promising results on how you respond to stress if you happen to have arrhythmias. We also advise that you discuss this with your doctor.

Choosing a biofeedback practitioner

So, are you interested in this technique?

Be sure to choose the right practitioner. They must have a license and be a therapist. Make sure they can answer any questions you may have about how they’ll approach the procedure.

As you can see, biofeedback has many health benefits. Have you already tried it? How was it?

Let us know!

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