Are you struggling with stress on a regular basis? Try using biofeedback which is a powerful tool for stress management and relaxation training. But who developed biofeedback as a technique to treat combat stress, and how does biofeedback work? Keep reading this article to find out.
Stress is a normal reaction to feeling unable to handle particular demands or circumstances, which may originate from the workplace, interpersonal connections, financial strains, or other circumstances. However, if a person does not take action to control it, stress can develop into a chronic condition.
Biofeedback treatment, a well-known instrument for measuring the body’s physiological responses and learning how to manage them in real-time, could be one method to reduce stress. Monitoring and controlling body input is a time-tested method for managing stress, disease, and chronic pain. A machine that measures heart rate, muscle tension, and other factors are used during the process, which often happens in a medical setting.
If reducing stress using biofeedback seems interesting to you and you want to know more about biofeedback, then give this article a read as we’ll discuss all the things you need to know about it in detail, like who developed biofeedback as a technique to treat combat stress as well as how does biofeedback work and the benefits of using biofeedback.
Table of Contents
What is biofeedback?
A mind-body technique known as biofeedback uses visual or aural feedback to help people learn to recognize the bodily indications and symptoms of stress and anxiety, such as elevated heart rate, body temperature, and tense muscles.
A form of therapy known as biofeedback monitors important bodily processes using sensors that are attached to the patient. Your body’s functioning will be better understood with the aid of biofeedback. Your ability to control some bodily functions and take care of health issues could be improved with the assistance of this information.
“Mind over matter” is the foundation of biofeedback. The concept is that by paying attention to how your body reacts to stressors and other stimuli, you may alter your health with the right strategies.
Your body may experience tremendous repercussions from ongoing stress. The interruption of brain function, higher blood pressure, and increased body temperature all fall under this category. Biofeedback tries to help you regulate bodily functions like your heart rate and blood pressure by encouraging a more effective mental and physical response to stress. It was once believed that these bodily functions were completely involuntary.
Who developed biofeedback as a technique to treat combat stress?
Biofeedback elements have been used to regulate the body and mind for ages, including techniques such as meditation and yoga. The modern use and use of biofeedback emerged in the late nineteenth century when scientists began to formulate hypotheses concerning biological homeostasis and the regulation of minute bodily functions such as minor muscle movements, respiration, and heart rate.
The Biofeedback Research Society was founded in 1969 as a result of growing interest in the possible applications of biofeedback in the 1960s. Biofeedback was influenced by a variety of scientific and medical disciplines, including physics, behavioral psychology, human biology, and others. Biofeedback became popular as more individuals became aware of the link between the body and the mind. Biofeedback therapy research and development have continued since then.
Throughout the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, research on the possible uses of biofeedback has progressed, using new technology and scientific approaches to better understand the link between body and mind.
EEGs and other measuring equipment enable scientists and medical practitioners to obtain more precise information about the body and patients to interpret the signals these machines receive from the body in real-time. Today, the study and application of biofeedback is a booming discipline in psychology and physiology.
How does biofeedback work?
In order to understand and regulate your body’s physiological changes, biofeedback therapy uses visual and audio input. It’s not complicated at all, despite what you might think. All you require is the appropriate tools.
Electrical sensors that are applied to the skin to assess various biological activities, such as heart rate, brain waves, muscle contractions, and more, are used to connect the person to a monitor during biofeedback sessions. On the biofeedback monitoring gadget, the information is shown in real-time.
A biofeedback therapist teaches you how to control and alter your body’s reactions during the session using a variety of methods, including breathing exercises, guided imagery, meditation, and other relaxation techniques.
As a result, the biofeedback gadget gives you immediate “feedback” on how the different relaxation techniques are affecting your physiological reactions. You can literally see the changes on the device.
Over 80% of the 63 biofeedback trials that were reviewed demonstrated that the practice helped treat psychiatric problems by reducing their symptoms. In addition, a Harvard study demonstrated how biofeedback could help lessen migraine pain while reducing the need for painkillers.
Biofeedback sessions typically run between 30 and 60 minutes. However, care is always tailored to the individual, which can vary. The number of sessions required to resolve your issue will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the severity of your troubles and how quickly you can learn to manage your physical responses to stimuli.
What is the purpose of biofeedback therapy?
Biofeedback’s primary goal is to combat stress with relaxation techniques. We’re all too eager to seek medication to alleviate our symptoms, but biofeedback offers a more natural and holistic approach to stress management.
It’s fair that you want to feel better in these trying times, but you must exhaust all of your options before taking medication. You may deliberately manage your heart rate, breathing, and other involuntary functions via biofeedback, allowing you to counteract your body’s response to stressful situations.
According to research, biofeedback therapy is most useful for stress-related disorders. Eating disorders, learning disorders, bedwetting, and muscular spasms are some examples of this. Biofeedback, on the other hand, can help you with a variety of other physical and mental health conditions, such as the following:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chemotherapy side effects
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Stress or anxiety
- Raynaud’s disease
Many people prefer the biofeedback approach because it is non-invasive and does not rely on medicine. Medications have adverse effects, but this does not. In some circumstances, people will utilize biofeedback in conjunction with other more traditional treatment choices, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), to achieve optimum well-being. However, people with chemical imbalances in their brains may require medicine at times.
How can biofeedback help with stress?
Maintaining stress levels in the “optimal zone” is beneficial for both job performance and general wellness. The stress system must be as responsive as possible in order to control good emotions during social interactions and to a sense of well-being.
For this reason, a number of stress-reduction strategies have been created, and these have been utilized to support people in maintaining homeostasis and autonomic balance. For instance, calming music can lower cortisol levels and aid in the recovery process after stressful times. According to research, when people are exposed to visual and auditory cues captured from natural habitats, their ability to recover from stress is sped up and improved.
According to established data, practicing mindfulness techniques for a short period of time has the potential to enhance and balance. It has a number of good effects, such as lowering anxiety, boosting concentration, and elevating mood.
The parasympathetic nervous system is similarly stimulated by yoga, which helps to balance an overactive autonomic nervous system. In the same way, Biofeedback is a strong technique for stress management because it trains and develops mind-body intelligence: the ability to move your body toward more optimal states, as the basis for
- Releasing anxiety, rage, and other undesirable emotions
- Calming a restless, rushing mind (e.g., helps with sleep problems)
- Developing clear and consistent attention and concentration.
What is combat stress, and how is biofeedback used to treat it?
Combat stress is, by definition, a normal, predictable response to combat situations. It is expected that most people will go through a variety of reactions after spending time in a combat zone where they are constantly exposed to physiological stressors (such as poor diet, extreme temperatures, little opportunity for good personal hygiene, etc.) and psychological stressors (such as worries about the presence of improvised explosive devices or snipers or the death of fellow service members).
These responses frequently manifest as hyperstartle (an excessive reaction to anything unexpected — commonly a loud noise), hypervigilance (being constantly on guard or super-alert), terrible dreams/nightmares, irritability, sleep issues, and so on.
While these may appear to be negative reactions, some of them, particularly hyperstartle and hypervigilance, are considered adaptive, as are other benefits of battle stress, such as higher physical strength, better endurance, and enhanced emotions of competency (not all combat stress is bad).
Combat stress is, in essence, a reaction that dissipates with time with the help of some simple self-help techniques and treatments like biofeedback therapy. The objective is never to take these kinds of experiences as something simple; terrible experiences and memories will always be upsetting no matter who goes through them.
Veterans, however, often transition into new stages of their lives without difficulty, thanks to the observation of anniversaries, lifelong relationships with members of the unit, and involvement with other veterans; if they still struggle, then psychological help and biofeedback therapy are always there for them.
How is biofeedback used to treat stress in veterans?
Biofeedback can be used to treat combat veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is frequently related to traumas experienced during the war. Biofeedback, in particular, can be used to increase heart rate variability, which has been linked to improved attention and short-term memory.
Patients who struggle to control their emotions can benefit from neurofeedback, a sort of biofeedback, which they can use to practice remaining calm and relaxed. Military organizations have adopted this type of biofeedback as a therapy option, even for extremely resistant cases of PTSD.
As we know that even very minor alterations to bodily symptoms of stress and PTSD can result in a significant reduction of symptoms which is why it is always a good idea to look for ways to reduce it. In some circumstances, biofeedback has been demonstrated to considerably lessen PTSD symptoms and can work in conjunction with a number of other therapies.
Biofeedback has also been demonstrated to be useful in decreasing stress levels among combat personnel. Biofeedback techniques can improve troops’ mental and psychological resilience, helping them to learn how to adapt to stressful events and make judgments under duress.
Soldiers trained under stress-reduction biofeedback methods performed superior first aid during a simulated ambush in one research, demonstrating how biofeedback allowed them to regulate their mental and physical responses to stress.
This training can help minimize war’s mental and psychological load, leading to a lower rate of PTSD and other forms of emotional distress among individuals serving in the armed forces. As a result, biofeedback can not only lessen the symptoms of mental discomfort during and after conflict.
It can also improve mental and emotional fitness regardless of the conditions. Biofeedback can thus be utilized as a part of a comprehensive approach that promotes healthy behavior and coping skills in various domains, including physical, mental, and emotional health.
Using biofeedback to manage stress at home
Biofeedback has historically been utilized in a medical setting, most typically in a hospital or doctor’s office and under the supervision and direction of a medical expert. Biofeedback in these circumstances frequently entails pricey sensory technology that allows doctors and patients to monitor the body’s real-time feedback.
This type of biofeedback is frequently particularly successful in addressing previously unnoticeable biological factors such as temperature, muscle tension, and brain activity. You may still participate in a streamlined form of biofeedback even if you don’t have access to these gadgets by paying attention to the signals your body sends and acting on them. Paying attention to and managing breathing, muscle tension, and heart rate are examples of straightforward biofeedback techniques.
Paying attention to changes in mood, appetite, weight gain, and any other possible physical changes that can occur can be considered another sort of biofeedback. Although this material might not be as in-depth as what you would learn from a medical professional, it can still be very beneficial in your quest to gain a deeper understanding of your body and the numerous links between your body and mind.
Additional uses for biofeedback
Biofeedback can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including incontinence, chronic pain, headaches, PTSD, and decision-making, in addition to monitoring and reducing stress and traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Incontinence – Biofeedback can be used to treat incontinence in children, pregnant or postpartum women, as well as other persons who experience problems with bladder control and related problems. Pelvic muscles can be trained and strengthened with the aid of biofeedback, and it can also help people more quickly notice the signs that they need to urinate.
- Chronic pain – Biofeedback can be used to assist lower the intensity of pain and other psychological side effects like stress and depression that are brought on by chronic pain. Some chronic pain conditions, especially back pain, can be effectively treated using biofeedback.
- Headaches and migraines – Biofeedback training may help to lessen headaches and migraines. Patients who undergo biofeedback training might learn how to regulate their symptoms and pain.
- Decision-making and emotional regulation – Biofeedback can be used to help people make better decisions and manage their emotions. Through a deeper understanding of associated physical symptoms, participants in biofeedback studies can learn how to better control their emotions and achieve mental and emotional calm. In particular, biofeedback has been utilized to assist financial traders and investors in making wiser business judgments. In the area of personal life, biofeedback offers a wide range of uses that enable users to better understand and control their emotions and behavior.
- Mental well-being – Patients can employ biofeedback to assist them in regulating their mental well-being. Patients can learn how to lessen the symptoms of conditions like stress, anxiety, and PTSD with biofeedback.
These instances show the variety of uses for biofeedback. Biofeedback is utilized in a variety of other contexts in addition to those already mentioned, and research is ongoing to identify possible applications in other fields. Biofeedback may have even more benefits in the future as more people conduct studies on its effects and potential as a novel treatment.
Types of biofeedback therapy
Biofeedback is available in a variety of forms. Some necessitate the use of unique tools that track the activities of your body and inform you of what’s happening. Observing your body’s processes mindfully is all that is needed for some other types of biofeedback therapy.
In electroencephalography biofeedback, also known as neurofeedback or brain wave biofeedback, specialized sensors are used to measure brain activity. By modifying the feedback from the brain sensors and undergoing therapy, you can try to control these mechanisms.
The sensors track the adjustments your neurological system undergoes during therapy, and as a result, you gradually regain control over your brain activity.
Your breathing rate will be observed during respiratory biofeedback. Following the observation, you receive feedback on how your breathing alters under various conditions. This type of therapy teaches you how to manage your breathing in circumstances that could otherwise make you more tense or anxious. This method might be useful for treating respiratory problems and hypertension.
Heart rate variability biofeedback
Biofeedback for heart rate variability measures your heart rate using specialized sensors. You can try to control your heart rate in certain conditions thanks to this feedback. For instance, if you experience anxiety when you speak in front of an audience and your heart begins to beat, you can practice public speaking using heart rate biofeedback in an effort to maintain a normal heart rate during the activity.
Electromyography (EMG) or muscle contraction biofeedback
Electrodes, or electrical conductors, are used in electromyography biofeedback, also known as muscular contraction feedback, to assess muscle activation. The electrodes are attached to a device that sends a visual or aural signal to the user as feedback, allowing them to try to change or improve muscle activation. It is frequently employed to manage unwelcome muscle spasms.
Galvanic skin response training or sweat gland activity biofeedback
To regulate how much sweat gland activity takes place inside your body, you can train your galvanic skin response (GSR). During GSR training, tiny sensors are utilized to gauge your skin’s electrical activity. You may manage the electrical activity in your skin with the help of these sensors, which also help to reduce other neural activity and excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis).
Thermal or temperature biofeedback
Thermal biofeedback uses temperature sensors attached to your body. These provide you feedback about your body’s temperature, and you can work to gain control over your skin and body temperatures. This may be helpful in relieving stress and anxiety.
Biofeedback therapy devices
You can use a variety of biofeedback tools during biofeedback therapy. These might include mobile gadgets that assess your gait speed, your body’s movements, your heart rate, or interactive computer programs that provide feedback regarding your movements.
Additionally, a variety of wearable biofeedback devices are available. To provide you with information about your heart rate, breathing, or blood pressure, these gadgets may be attached to your body and communicate with your smartphone.
Resperate is a brand of popular wearables. The little wearable monitor on this chest-worn device lets you know how quickly you’re breathing. Then it plays a song for you that encourages you to breathe more slowly. Lower blood pressure may be benefited from slower breathing rates—those that are less than six breaths per minute. You might be able to reduce your high blood pressure by working with Resparate for 15 minutes three to four days a week.
The benefits of using biofeedback
The outside world is an anxious place. Our lives are busy, and until the symptoms become unbearable, it can be challenging to recognize the stress that our bodies and brains are under.
An effective and secure technique for managing stress is biofeedback. Here are a few benefits of starting your biofeedback training:
- It isn’t intrusive – Devices for biofeedback are non-invasive and have no danger of negative effects or consequences.
- You gain a greater comprehension of your body as a result of biofeedback – You’ll become closer to your body with a little work and direction from your biofeedback therapist. This will enable you to make the required changes for improved bodily function, relaxation, and stress relief.
- The use of medications may become more effective as a result – Techniques like biofeedback and neurofeedback go to the root of your stress. Knowing the source of one’s stress might assist in determining whether or not the medication is necessary for treatment.
- It allows you to exert control over your emotions – Learning to be more aware of your emotions will assist you in detecting stressors before they become too overpowering or develop into persistent issues.
What can biofeedback teach you?
We are continuously receiving signals from our neurological system about how stressed and emotional we are. If we don’t know what to look for when detecting these signals, it can be challenging.
We frequently aren’t aware of our stress until it gets too enormous to ignore, such as chronic melancholy, worry, or physical pain. With practice, you can develop your capacity to recognize and control your emotions. Biofeedback therapies are intended to increase awareness of your body’s reactions in real time.
Is biofeedback therapy safe?
Fortunately, biofeedback is considered safe by the Mayo Clinic, and no adverse side effects have been reported to date. However, this approach may not be for everyone, and you must consult your primary care physician prior to starting this or any other form of therapy.
How should I prepare for biofeedback therapy?
It is a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider to identify a healthcare provider who uses biofeedback. Most biofeedback practitioners are psychologists or social workers, while certain other rehabilitation specialists, such as physical therapists or recreational therapists, may have biofeedback training as well.
Numerous biofeedback practitioners also hold licenses in other branches of medicine, such as physical therapy, psychology, or nursing. Practitioners of biofeedback are subject to different state legislation. Some therapists decide to obtain credentials in this area that showcase their additional education and work history.
Your therapist ought to conduct a quick evaluation before you begin biofeedback. Goals for therapy should be established, and a medical history should be gathered. The impairments’ baseline measures will be taken in order to track changes over time. If your doctor approves you for biofeedback therapy, there isn’t any special preparation needed for it. Although there is no need to prepare, you should think about asking the following queries before starting therapy. These consist of.
- Please send along a list of references.
- Are you registered, certified, or licensed in this industry?
- What training have you conducted, and how much experience do you have with biofeedback?
- How many biofeedback sessions will I require, given my background?
- Have you ever treated someone with my issue with biofeedback?
- Is it pricey? Will my insurance cover this kind of therapy?
What to anticipate during a biofeedback therapy session?
The length of a typical biofeedback session is 30 to 60 minutes. Your therapist will attach sensors to your body when you come that can detect respiration, heart rate, or brain activity. Then, your therapist will direct you through a particular mental exercise that includes breathing techniques, images, or meditation. The biofeedback device will provide you with ongoing input, and the therapist can support you in changing your responses and emotions while you are in the session.
How many appointments will I require to combat stress?
When first beginning off with biofeedback training, it is a good idea to try three to five sessions and see how things go. To develop your mind-body connection and gain mastery of your body’s processes, you may need 10 to 20 sessions.
Remember that everyone is unique and responds differently to a different therapy. Your experience with biofeedback may differ, so consult with your healthcare practitioner to learn more about what to expect.
Stress is an unavoidable aspect of life; with all the things happening around us in this fast-paced environment that includes work, interpersonal relations, and studies, none of us can avoid it entirely. But we all deserve to have the tools to handle stress so that we don’t suffer when it does appear effectively.
As pointed out in our article, biofeedback is a gentle and safe approach to stress management that teaches you how to relax. You don’t have to go to the extreme levels of having to use heavy medications that can have many potential side effects.
As an extra benefit, you’ll leave with a greater awareness of your mind and body, as well as a better understanding of how to deal with stress in the future. We hope this article will help you understand how biofeedback can help with stress in an effective manner.