Make your nervous system your ally instead of your enemy with these
Biofeedback is a method of measuring physiological functions you are not normally aware of (such as skin temperature, muscle tension, or brain waves) and then training yourself to control these functions.
Depending on what particular physiological function you are working with, different techniques are used.
The most common biofeedback techniques are:
- Temperature biofeedback
- EMG biofeedback
- EEG biofeedback
- Galvanic Skin Response
With biofeedback you are in control. No needles and no medications. You learn to listen and talk to your body and make your nervous system an ally in your healing process. Learn how biofeedback works in this article.
Biofeedback is enhanced with autogenic relaxation or visualization which are used to guide you into the desired state of relaxation, warmth, or muscle release.
Skin Temperature Biofeedback
Skin temperature biofeedback, also called Thermal Biofeedback, is the most common of all biofeedback techniques. Temperature biofeedback focuses on teaching you to alter your hand temperature.
A thermistor is attached to one finger of your dominant hand. Changes in temperature as small as one tenth of a degree are registered and fed back to you through a digital display. Your job is to increase or decrease the temperature of your hand.
Using thermal biofeedback relaxation to alter temperature of the body was one of the first biofeedback techniques to be used for healing.
Researchers found that this particular method was useful in treating Raynaud's phenomena and migraine headaches.
EMG Muscle Tension Biofeedback
EMG biofeedback technique gives feedback about what is happening in a particular group of muscles, for example in the forehead or forearm. This feedback is usually both visual (digital display) and auditory (clicking sounds). With this feedback, you can learn to voluntarily relax or tense particular muscle groups.
When muscles tighten, a series of electrical impulses travel to the muscle fibres. With decrease of electrical activity, relaxation of the muscles occurs. With EMG biofeedback, the electrical activity of the muscle is detected by the used of electrodes placed on the skin directly over the muscle that is being measured. The information is then fed back to you.
Your goal is to decrease (or increase) this electrical activity, thus learning to control your muscle tension.
EMG biofeedback was found to be particularly useful for tension headaches, anxiety, phobias, and insomnia.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) Biofeedback
EEG biofeedback, also called neurofeedback, is a learning strategy that allows you to alter your brain waves. As you watch your brainwave pattern on a monitor, you learn that you can change your brainwaves.
Why would you want to change your brainwaves? Simple. There are 4 brainwave patterns (beta, alpha, theta, and delta), each associated with a different state. If you are looking for stress relief, then your goal is to learn to induce alpha brainwave patterns, associated with relaxation and calmness.
In a typical EEG session, one or more electrodes are placed on your scalp, and one on each ear. Your brainwaves are monitored and displayed on a monitor. Through a computer game you learn how to change your brainwaves to a more desired frequency.
EEG biofeedback is used for anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, addictions, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune disorders.
Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)
GSR reflects sweat gland activity and changes in the sympathetic nervous system. As you become anxious or stressed out, perspiration tends to increase, often in tiny amounts invisible to the eye. This moisture heightens the electrical conductance of a tiny electrical current between two points on the skin.
A GSR biofeedback detects these changes and feeds them back to you through visual or auditory signal.
This type of biofeedback has been found to be helpful in the treatment of phobias and hypertension.
To learn more about biofeedback, learn about the history of biofeedback.
Biofeedback techniques are useful tools to help you learn to control your nervous system and achieve relaxation. Other great relaxation techniques are:
Muscle Relaxation Technique
10 Ways to Relieve Stress
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