A very powerful treatment for stress, biofeedback is based on the observation that human beings can potentially control at least some of their autonomic functions. You can learn in a matter of hours to change the temperature of your hands, at will, by several degrees. You can learn to relax, decrease your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, reduce the frequency of asthma or allergy attacks, and stop smoking. You can also learn to prevent migraines, reduce pain, and manage many chronic conditions.
Biofeedback therapists rely on special equipment with sensors that monitor skin temperature and moisture, muscle contractions, and brainwaves. The machine literally feeds back your efforts at control in the form of a signal-often a light, buzz, beep, or tone. Once connected to the biofeedback equipment, you’re instructed to alter the signal as you perform relaxation and deep breathing exercises. You must rely on trial and error to accomplish this. With practice you eventually learn to manage your responses to stress without the equipment. Most biofeedback sessions are scheduled weekly for 50 minutes.
Several different types of biofeedback therapy are available. Galvanic skin response (GSR) equipment measures your skin’s electrical conductance related to sweat gland activity. You probably know this form of biofeedback from its use in lie detector tests. As a small electrical current is applied to your skin, the GSR device measures changes in the levels of water and salt released from your sweat glands. The more Quantum Biofeedback emotionally aroused you are, the more active your sweat glands are. GSR biofeedback is frequently used to treat stress, anxiety, phobias, excessive sweating, and stuttering.
Another popular biofeedback device monitors skin temperature. A sensor is attached to a finger or toe. If you’re anxious or nervous, your skin temperature will decrease as blood redirects from your hands and feet to your internal organs and muscles. If you’re calm, your skin temperature will increase as blood returns to your hands and feet. Temperature biofeedback is invaluable for treating stress, migraine headaches, and such circulatory disorders as Raynaud’s disease, which is a condition characterized by excessively cold hands and feet.
Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback measures muscle tension. Two electrodes or sensors are taped onto your skin over the muscle to be monitored. When the electrodes detect muscle tension, the device produces a buzz, beep, or colored light. You can hear or see continuous monitoring of your muscle’s activity as you learn what tension feels like when it begins to mount. EMG biofeedback is particularly helpful for treating tension headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, back pain, and fibromyalgia.