Stress Management Part One

Posted in NetCasts by biofeedbackresources on October 1st, 2007

Stress Management Techniques

Hello I’m Harry Campbell of Biofeedback Resources International also found at www.biofeedbackinternational.com

There are many techniques that have been developed for managing or decreasing the negative effects of stress. I will review some of the techniques that I am aware of and have found to be effective. This is not a complete list of stress management techniques but I believe that it is a helpful starting point. I expect to expand on this list as I am able to gather more information.

Muscle Relaxation

One of the most popular muscle relaxation techniques is called Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation. It involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group in the body one at a time. This brings a person’s awareness to each muscle and usually causes any excess tension to decrease.

These exercises can be done without any equipment. Audio CDs and tapes are available that can be used to learn the technique.

Biofeedback Equipment can be used to speed the learning of muscle relaxation. An instrument called an Electromyograph (EMG) can be used to measure how tense your muscles are.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

On average we breathe 15-20 breaths a minute – too fast and shallow. It is more ideal and healthy for our mind and body if we learn to slow and deepen our breathing so that our breath rate ranges from 6-10 breaths per minute. Positive health benefits can result from learning to breathe in this way. Research has shown significant decreases in blood pressure when people used a device that promotes slower breathing. Slow breathing also may help to reduce feelings of anxiety and panic.

Autogenic Relaxation

Autogenic relaxation is a technique in which you say phrases to yourself either silently or out loud like “my right hand is warm and heavy” while relaxing your muscles and breathing deeply and slowly. Eventually your right arm should start to feel warm, heavy, and relaxed. You then move to your left arm and repeat the process. You move through various parts of your body until your whole body feels relaxed. This technique is often used in combination with temperature biofeedback and hand warming.

Guided Relaxation Imagery/Visualization

When using this technique you imagine that you are in a beautiful, relaxing, peaceful scene. It could be a vacation spot that you have visited or just an ideal “make believe” area that would really help you to become relaxed. It could be a beach, meadow, or mountain area. You think of what it would sound, smell, and feel like as well as what it would look like. There are audio cds or tapes that do a good job of creating this imagery for you.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a process that uses instruments that measure changes in our body that are a reflection of a stress or relaxation response. These instruments measure the changes and then “feed back” the information to us using visual – graphs or lights and or audio tones to show us what direction the changes are happening and how much change there is. We use this information to help us become aware when we are reacting to stress and when we are relaxing or reversing the negative reactions to stress. Biofeedback instruments can measure brainwaves, muscle tension, skin temperature, sweat, breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Professional biofeedback instruments are purchased by licensed healthcare practitioners.

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

CES is a form of microcurrent therapy that applies a small electrical current through clip electrodes attached to the earlobes. Sessions can be done for 20 to 40 minutes as every day or every other day, or less often as needed. It can give a relaxed, pleasant feeling. It does not tend to have the undesirable side effects of most anxiety drugs. It leaves the mind alert and calm. It has been used for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. CES works to “normalize” the electrical activity of the nervous system including the brain. The results are measurable by EEG technology.

For more information on the subject please visit www.mindfitness.com.

Adobe compatible PDF file with full text of Part One.