Biofeedback is a treatment used to help individuals improve their health and performance. It is most commonly utilized to reduce anxiety, stress, and tension but has a wide range of positive impact beyond these difficulties. Specifically, it is a process that facilitates a person learning to change a particular biological activity. A certain physiological component is measured and then the activity level of it is fed back to the individual. With this feedback process, an individual gains greater control over his or her own biology over time with training, thus achieving improved regulation. This process is called operant conditioning.
Common components that are measured in this process include heart rate, heart rate variability, hand temperature, skin conductance (micro-sweat levels on the skin), muscle tension, and breathing rate. All of these components correlate to the activity level of our sympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that gets activated when we are stressed and anxious. The activation of our sympathetic nervous system directly relates to if we feel relaxed or overwhelmed, especially in high demand or heightened scenarios like giving a speech at a meeting or performing in a show. It is particularly related to stress levels we feel in our body but is also linked to our mind (attention, thoughts, worries, etc.) as well.
Once one has gained improved control over biological stress-related activities, an individual can utilize and apply this outside of session. The benefits and skills learned in biofeedback training continue even after treatment, as long as one is intentional about sustained application of the skill.
Biofeedback treatment is commonly used to help with the following concerns:
Chronic stress Shallow breathing (if it is only stress related)
Anxiety Elevated heart rate (if it is only stress related)
Overthinking Muscle tension (if is is only stress related)
Ruminating thoughts Tightness in chest (if it is only stress related)
Panic symptoms Performance anxiety
Test anxiety Theatrical performance
Musical Performance Athletic performance
*Important Note - Biofeedback is not a medical treatment. It is vital that an individual sees the appropriate medical professionals to assess any possible medical condition, disease, or disorder that may be causing these symptoms