Biofeedback for Anxiety

When you open your mouth or wave to a friend or you go for a walk, you make a choice to move like that. You’re using the somatic nervous system, but how fast you breathe or how fast your heart beats, isn’t something you usually think about. Your heart just beats faster when you’re excited and more slowly when your calm. Your heart rate and a bunch of other bodily functions are controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Now, most people have no idea that you can learn to change your heart rate, your skin, temperature, your breathing, and your blood pressure by learning to regulate your nervous system. Using Biofeedback In this article, you will learn how biofeedback can help improve your mental and physical health.

Biofeedback has been shown to help with anxiety, depression, headaches, chronic pain incontinence, high blood pressure and even more situations than that. So basically biofeedback is a simple way to improve your mind, body connection and learn to regulate your nervous system. In this article, you’re going to learn all about biofeedback, you’ll know how to do it on your own without any special equipment. Hi everyone.One of the things I love about better health is that it’s really accessible.Biofeedback is literally feedback about what your biology is doing. About 90% of the things going on in your body right now are subconscious. These are things like your breathing, your heart rate digestion, your immune system, your blood pressure, your autonomic nervous system is just running these without you thinking about it.

With the help of biofeedback, you can measure what is happening in the autonomic nervous system and learn how to calm it down.. And this can be super helpful with anxiety and other physical conditions.Now later in this article, I’m going to teach you the technique I learned, but first let me tell you what I did with. After I’d been practicing biofeedback for awhile. I was curious to see how much I could impact my heart rate. And I had a doctor’s appointment coming up and I knew that he would check my heart rate more precisely than I could on my own. So when I got into the exam room, I started my practice and I started to slow my system down. And to my surprise, it worked even better than I expected.

The doctor was like, “What are you a marathon runner? Your heart rate was 28 beats per minute”, he said. Just for reference, the average resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. And for athletes, it’s about 40 to 60 beats per minute. So I had dropped my heart rate way below those. I was pleased with my little trick, but even more importantly, this skill has helped me regulate my mind and my emotions and my actions by being able to create a state of calm. So what is this technique? What was I doing? At its essence, biofeedback is just a way for you to get feedback about what your autonomic nervous system is doing. Now there’s a couple of ways to do this, but usually you use monitors and a screen to create a visual representation of what’s going on inside. And, most biofeedback devices measure things like heart rate, breathing, rate, skin temperature, and conductivity, which means, you know, how sweaty your hands are.

And there are even some biofeedback devices that measure brainwaves. And basically what you can see is what your nervous system is doing. And then when you get that visual readout, you can learn to change it. So for example, When you’re notecing your heart rate, you can experiment with different techniques like, uh, you know, different thoughts or different breathing and watch in real time as your heart rate drops or rises. So biofeedback just all comes down to showing you what state your nervous system is in. If you’re in the high alert state or the fight flight freeze response, you’ll have a higher heart rate, faster breathing sweater, your hands, et cetera. But most people aren’t very aware of this. They don’t notice that they’re spending a lot of time in this stressed out state and they don’t know how to change it.

Your nervous system has a natural calming state, the parasympathetic state. It’s also known as rest and digest. And in this state, you’re calm and your body is healing. If you’re in this state, your heart and breathing rates drop your hands are warmer and drier and your muscles relax. So by using biofeedback, you can learn to change the things that we normally consider to be out of our control. So you can learn to turn on your parasympathetic or your rest and digest response with feedback and practice. So let me show you one way to do it. You can learn to do your own basic biofeedback exercise without special equipment. So here’s the technique I learned in psych 1 0 1. Now, when you’re starting to learn this, when you’re just starting, it’s easier if you do this in a quiet them comfortable place, where you can be alone, then sit or lay down in a comfortable position and find your pulse.

Now count your heart rate for 30 seconds. Now don’t worry about counting your heart rate for a minute. Just notice your heart rate, just stay where you are, pay attention to your pulse. Notice what your pulse is doing and what it feels like. Now, pay attention to your breathing while still keeping your fingers on your pulse. So try to take slow, longer breaths. What happens to your pulse when you breathe in? What happens to your pulse when you hold your breath in? And what happens to your pulse when you hold it out? Take a few seconds to just pay attention to how your breathing changes your pulse.Now for many people, your heart rate speeds up when you breathe in and it slows down when you breathe out. This is a good thing. People who are calm tends to have this healthy pattern of heart rate variability, where the heart rate gently increases with the in breath and decreases with the hours.

Now, if you didn’t notice this, don’t worry. You can train yourself to increase your HRV over time. But with biofeedback, we can use the awareness of our heartbeats to train our bodies and minds to calm down. So this was a really simple biofeedback exercise. So the trick I used in the doctor’s office was when he was getting ready to take my pulse. I just very slow breathed out. And that slowed my heart rate. I also was in really good shape at the time, but, um, I slowed my heart rate down even more by breathing out very slowly. Now you can use more specialized equipment to get more information and practice regulating your nervous system. Some therapists have biofeedback devices in their offices, and this is a research back to treatment. It’s got evidence behind it showing that it can be quite effective, but, um, you know, it can’t.

Quite expensive over time. Um, so if you want to try and do this on your own, there are some devices you can use at home. Uh, recently Flowly sent me their VR biofeedback kit to try out and it uses a heart rate monitor connected to your ear, and then it uses your phone to create a VR experience that teaches you to calm yourself down and it trains your nervous system to relax. Now you can also use some other sensors like heart math. Or you can even just use a basic heart rate monitor combined with some apps.So HRV is one of the most important measures of your nervous system state. But basically, biofeedback is as Dr. Gurvits says, “a it’s a brand new idea that is 2,500 years old.”

People have been practicing, mindful and slow breathing for thousands of years, and they’ve seen the positive effects. So now we’re just able to measure them using machines with the display. And if you practice biofeedback for a few minutes a day, your parasympathetic response will improve over time. And because your parasympathetic response gets stronger. It can help you calm down even when you’re not intentionally trying to calm down. So basically the calming side of your nervous system can get stronger. Now because your autonomic nervous system is connected to every part of your body learning to influence it is really powerful. So biofeedback has been shown to help with muscle tension, chronic pain, migraines, lowering blood pressure, managing anxiety, depression, and decreasing dependence on pain, medication and opiod.