Learn To Regulate Stress & Emotions Effectively with Biofeedback Training
Biofeedback is a powerful tool for combating stress, by training and developing mind-body intelligence: the ability to guide your body towards more optimal states, as the basis for:
- letting go of anxiety, anger and other negative emotions
- quietening a restless, racing mind (e.g. helps with sleep problems)
- developing clear and stable focus and concentration.
How Does Biofeedback Work?
Your body is constantly responding to your thoughts and experiences - and in turn your physiology conditions how you think and feel. This is the mind-body connection.
In biofeedback we measure these changes, which may happen outside of awareness, and feed them back in real time via computer - e.g. as a changing graph.
This feedback is the basis for creating change:
- Gaining insight: into how thoughts and feelings affect you, and what works and what doesn't work in terms of influencing emotional states.
- Developing mind-body skills: learning to access (the physiology of) resourceful states such as calm, clear focus. Learning happens automatically in the brain, unmediated by the thinking, judging mind.
- Building brain fitness: through exercise, you can build fitness in your brain so you're better able to handle stress as it arises in life.
What Can We Measure?
Effective biofeedback parameters are easy to measure, reflect your mental and emotional state, and are relatively easy to influence. Some examples are:
- Muscle tension (EMG) – we tend to tighten up under stress - but we don't always notice it and it's not necessarily easy to fully release tension.
- Capnometry – detects over-breathing which actually deprives the brain of oxygen. We know about extreme hyperventilation in the context of panic, but mild over-breathing is common and largely unrecognised.
- Heart Rate Variability (HRV) – we're looking for a pattern of change in the heart rate known as heart coherence, which supports a calm, clear and emotionally positive mind (see graphic below).
Optimal Breathing Training
The three biofeedback parameters I've listed all relate to breathing. Breathing is an ideal window on the mind-body connection – on the one hand stress manifests as clear and specific dysfunctional breathing patterns, and on the other, learning to breathe well creates a basis for optimal well-being and brain performance.
The three parameters draw out different aspects of breathing – for example muscle tension biofeedback can identify chest-based breathing and train abdominal breathing, while capnometry can identify over-breathing. Over-breathing (hyperventilation) is the most significant stressed breathing pattern because it (paradoxically) lowers oxygen delivery to brain cells.
Together the three parameters combine to form a powerful integrated optimal breathing training programme.
Neurofeedback: Biofeedback For The Brain
Neurofeedback is a particular form of biofeedback that's based on directly measuring brain activity. It typically works as a form of repetitive exercise, that increases your brain's "fitness" - like weight training it builds the "muscle" of your brain.
Neurofeedback is an ideal tool for strengthening "executive function" which includes focus and stable attention (concentration). Stable but flexible attention is skill everyone can benefit from, and moreover, anxiety and mood problems tend to show up as an inability to focus in the present moment, or preoccupation with either past (things that went wrong) or future (things that might go wrong).
Neurofeedback typically takes a lot of sessions (20 to 100). In my own practice I focus on preparing clients for and guiding them in home training. Neurofeedback training is a significant investment, and home training is often the most cost-effective route.
For issues relating to emotional resilience it's more efficient to start with other forms of biofeedback first, and very often enough.
Benefits of Biofeedback & Neurofeedback
Biofeedback is self-empowering - you're not the passive recipient of treatment. Because the benefits come from learning:
- biofeedback is a safe, non-invasive therapy
- the benefits of biofeedback training are lasting.
How You Can Access Biofeedback Training
I'm deeply inspired by the potential that biofeedback training offers and motivated to help as many people as possible to access the benefits, and to make doing so as easy and convenient as possible. Whilst in an ideal world you'd probably visit my office here in York for one to one coaching, in practice that's often not feasible especially if you live at a distance from me. But it doesn't mean you can't work with me.
My services are based around:
- An online (video-based) biofeedback training course - designed to give you the key information, ideas and practices to make working with biofeedback a success. The course aims to develop emotional resilience and stress management skills, and is built around optimal breathing training, focusing on three key biofeedback parameters related to breathing.
- Biofeedback device rental and sales, so that you can practice at home with the three key biofeedback modalities for optimal breathing, which are muscle tension (EMG), capnometry, and heart coherence (also known as heart rate variability or HRV biofeedback).
- I also offer one to one distance coaching via telephone or skype, to support my clients.
"I have found biofeedback invaluable in treating my anxiety. With the help of this technology I became aware of the physical impact of my anxiety, and learned effective mind-body skills, which have helped enormously in reducing my anxiety. Before attending Glyn's therapy sessions, I tried many other treatments and strategies to reduce my anxiety. I would say that the strategies Glyn uses have helped me by far the most."
- Karen, West Yorkshire