Biofeedback relaxation is just one aspect of the biofeedback system, but its use for stress relief can be highly effective.
What is biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a system where your involuntary body systems such as:
These systems can be monitored and the information fed back immediately to the patient, so that they can actually see how their body is responding to stress and try to make changes to lower the stress response.
The system requires various machines to be attached to the patient depending on the area to be monitored, and for the machine to feedback all the relevant signals the body is registering. Often the patient is asked questions to heighten a response so that the patient can see and notice how their body is reacting.
Once the patient is aware of how stress is affecting their body and how this feels they can concentrate on affecting their systems consciously.
Biofeedback relaxation techniques can then be affectively used to combat stress and return the body to a more healthy state, i.e. the patient can see when their body systems are relaxed as opposed to being stressed.
There are several methods for monitoring various body systems but one of the main ones is to monitor skin temperature and level of sweating which occurs while the person is stressed.
Small electrodes are placed on the fingers and a small safe electrical current is passed across the electrodes. When the skin is moist from sweating the current passes easily over the skin. This measuring of this skin resistance is known as the galvanic skin response or GSR.
The biofeedback machine will emit a sound to indicate the level of resistance. So a high pitched sound will indicate a stressed person where a low pitched sound indicates that the person is relaxed. This gives the patient instant feedback results.
Biofeedback relaxation techniques are very helpful for those people who have almost forgotten how to relax and so have forgotten what the feeling of being relaxed actually feels like. By actually seeing and hearing the difference they will be able to begin to do something about their stress levels and notice the signals their bodies are giving them on a day to day basis.
Most of the equipment is rather specialized and has to be carried out by a professional clinician. However there are now some inexpensive machines which can be bought for home use for some of the easier monitoring, such as for the GSR.
There is also a rather simple device known as the bio dot which is very easy to use and very inexpensive to buy.
Bio dots are small self adhesive temperature sensitive dots that are stuck to the skin. They indicate the changes in skin temperature by changing color and so alerting you when your body is reacting to stress or is in a state of relaxation. Bio dots can be worn on the skin all day and will constantly change color depending on the skin temperature.
Bio dots are particularly useful in aiding someone to learn to relax as they act as a motivational tool. If you notice that your bio dot is indicating that your body is stressed you are more likely to try and do something about it. The bio dot is also very reassuring when you know that you are relaxed, this is very important to those people where stress can be very harmful to them i.e. if they suffer from heart conditions of high blood pressure.