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  • Writer's pictureHeather Gibson, MA, LMFT

How Does Biofeedback Help People Reduce Stress – 5 Impactful Techniques

Updated: Apr 12

Written by Andee Schuur, MFT


Biofeedback is a process where you learn how your body responds to stress through non-invasive, live computer feedback. During a biofeedback session, various physiological changes in your body are monitored, like your heart rate or breathing rate, which are then displayed on a computer, thus “feeding back” the information to you. Equipped with this information, you can then implement various breathing techniques or relaxation techniques to help reduce stress or achieve relaxation. Biofeedback therapy services are available at Positive Change.


What is Biofeedback Therapy?


Biofeedback therapy focuses on increasing your awareness of how your body responds when you’re stressed. Our nervous system is in charge of helping us react and respond to stressful or dangerous events, like triggering our “fight or flight” response to help us deal with a threatening situation. Sometimes, this “fight or flight” response gets triggered in situations that aren’t actually life-threatening, but our body still responds as if it is – your heart rate speeds up, your breathing gets shallow, you may feel tense or jittery, your hands may feel cold and clammy, or you may feel some stomach upset. All of these changes are uncomfortable – or even disabling – when we’re trying to ace a job interview or ask someone out on a date. 


In biofeedback therapy, you learn which specific changes happen in your body when you’re stressed. Once you’re aware of these changes, you can then use breathing techniques or relaxation techniques to help calm your body and bring your nervous system back into balance. 


Biofeedback Techniques


The main technique in biofeedback therapy is paced diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing. This breathing technique helps to slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and send calming signals to your brain.


Additional techniques in biofeedback therapy include muscle relaxation techniques, guided imagery, and mindful relaxation techniques. These techniques help with reducing muscle tension, increasing mindfulness, and increasing a general sense of relaxation. 


How Does Biofeedback Help People Reduce Stress


1. Helps You Better Understand your Stress Responses


A variety of changes happen in our bodies when we’re stressed. We can experience an increased heart rate, faster or shallow breathing, higher blood pressure, sweating, muscle tension or shakiness, cold hands or feet, dry mouth, chest pain or tightness, nausea or upset stomach, or abdominal pain. For most people, we tend to experience a few of these changes most commonly. For example, someone may frequently feel chest pain and shakiness when stressed, but not notice much sweating or dry mouth. Biofeedback therapy helps you learn which specific changes happen in your body when stressed, so you can then track how breathing or relaxation techniques impact those bodily changes. 


2. Increased Focus on Stress Management


Biofeedback encourages you to pay close attention to how your body feels and reacts to stressful situations. By paying closer attention to your body, you can then employ one of the breathing or relaxation techniques to help reduce your stress and bring your nervous system back into balance. 


3. Increased Mindfulness


Mindfulness is the foundation for biofeedback therapy. It’s important to be able to notice changes in your body in order to use biofeedback techniques to help reduce stress. By tuning in to the way your body feels and responds to stress, you increase your ability to mindfully observe the changes happening in your body. Additionally, practicing paced breathing is a present-focused activity that increases mindfulness. 


4. Focusing on Breathing Patterns to Develop Deep Breathing Exercises


In biofeedback therapy, breathing techniques are the cornerstone technique for managing stress. Particularly, paced diaphragmatic breathing is an effective breathing technique for reducing stress. Your diaphragm is a muscle that sits below your lungs, and moves up and down when you breathe. By using your diaphragm when you breathe, you increase your lung capacity and are better able to get oxygen down into the lower lobes of your lungs. 


The pace of your breathing is equally as important as using your diaphragm in biofeedback. During biofeedback therapy, you learn the breathing pace that’s best for you for triggering a relaxation response in your body. In general, making sure your exhale is longer than your inhale (e.g. inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds) is a basic way of pacing your breathing.


5. Assist in Developing Relaxation Techniques


In addition to paced breathing exercises, additional techniques are developed in biofeedback to help with relaxation and stress reduction. Muscle relaxation techniques are used while you monitor your muscle tension levels to increase your conscious awareness and control of your muscles. Guided imagery techniques can also be helpful in promoting relaxation. This may look like imagining yourself at a favorite place – maybe at the beach or doing a relaxing activity – and fully imagining what you would be seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or even tasting if you were there. By practicing these techniques during a biofeedback session, you then learn ways to implement these techniques in your everyday life to help increase your relaxation.

 

Biofeedback Therapy


Biofeedback therapy is an effective approach to help learn about how your body reacts to stress and then implement techniques to help reduce stress and increase relaxation. Biofeedback helps you learn effective breathing and relaxation techniques to increase mindfulness and better manage your stress.


Biofeedback Therapy Near Me


Biofeedback therapy is a helpful tool for people looking to reduce stress and feel more relaxed. Your body reacts in a variety of ways when you’re feeling stressed, and biofeedback helps you learn about these changes so you can utilize breathing or relaxation techniques to help you better manage your stress. Positive Change Counseling Center offers biofeedback therapy for clients wanting to use their insurance coverage or who would prefer a private/self-pay option. Please click here to get started or  contact our Client Care Coordinator team today: info@pccounselingcenter.com or (619) 733-6414.




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