Biofeedback is about getting in touch with your body, receiving feedback, and making adjustments to lessen stress and pain. Biofeedback is often aimed at changing habitual reactions to stress that can cause pain (emotional or physical) or disease.
Your body has a Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and a Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The SNS prepares you for fight, flight or freeze, the PNS teaches you to slow down, rest, digest, and relax. It is normal to have an active SNS in frightening situations or threatening situations. What typically happens is that when the event is over you are able to relax.
There are times a person may go through many high stress situations or experience trauma and the SNS starts to be engaged more frequently or chronically. An over engaged SNS causes distressing symptoms that no longer lend themselves to restoration, healing and stability. The goal of biofeedback is to gain appropriate variation of your symptoms, to learn how to regulate, and to be more mindful of our body responses and investigate why you activate the SNS.
About Biofeedback Training:
There are many types of biofeedback that you are already familiar with. Taking your temperature, for instance, or standing on a scale are typical uses of biofeedback you likely use today. They provide you with feedback how your body is doing and you feel and allow you to make choices to improve your condition. The same is with biofeedback that targets stress responses.
Clinicians rely on the equipment to indicate areas to focus on. Patients can hear and see what is occurring in their own bodies. Like a pitcher learning to throw a ball, the biofeedback patient, in an attempt to improve skill, monitors performance. When a ball misses the mark, the pitcher adjusts the delivery. The biofeedback clinician acts as the coach, standing at the sidelines, setting goals and limits on what to expect and giving suggestions on how to improve performance.
Types of Biofeedback Offered:
Peripheral Blood Flow:
When the body is stressed blood flow is constricted to extremities. Using tools to check the temperature of your fingers (like stress squares or stress thermometers) and exercises to cultivate positive emotions you can train your body to relax and allow your blood flow to increase. This is also a helpful tool for migraine sufferers to regulate blood flow naturally.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV):
There are different measures to heart rate, one is heart beats per minute (BPM) and another is to measure the time between beats (HRV). The less time between beats the more likely to have stress and painful responses. Using a small sensor on your earlobe and targeted exercises that foster coherence you can change your HRV and decrease stress responses.