A Path to Holistic Well-being
Happy New Year, Lovely You,
I spoke with a friend the other week who sounded like an entirely different person. If I’m honest, this friend has become… a bit dour over the years. Always tired, always something to complain about. Hadn’t been in touch with her for over a year and it’s like I was talking to a younger, happier, more vibrant version of her.
When I asked what was going on she told me she had been using biofeedback therapy and that it completely turned her physical, mental and emotional health around.
I was first introduced to bio feedback 25 years ago when I was living in California and met with the founder of Heart Math. It took practice to get your physical, mental and emotional systems into coherent but well worth it. I had been meditating for years, so it was a little easier to get there and stay there. I feel 2024 is the year for all of us to relax more and find daily inner peace. Give it a shot!
What is it Exactly?
Here is a really great 10-minute video that perfectly explains what biofeedback is and how it can help your mental and physical health: Biofeedback for Anxiety
In a nutshell, biofeedback therapy is a mind-body technique whereby you monitor your physiological processes (heart rate, muscle tension, etc.) to become able to control them. As you gain more and more control, you can dramatically improve your overall health and well-being, as is evidenced by my friend.
Essentially, self-regulation is the key to a happy and healthy life. As children we are taught (or at least we should be taught) how to regulate our emotions and behavior. We’re taught how to regulate our time and finances. But no one really teaches us about the mind-body connection and how we can use our mind to regulate our bodily processes, bringing us a sense of calm and inner peace, which can in turn bring better health and overall well-being.
Here are just some of the many benefits of biofeedback therapy:
One of the main benefits of biofeedback therapy is its ability to help you reduce stress. I’ve been talking a lot lately about the stress all of us have been under for the last few years. I want us all to learn to not only survive these stressful times but thrive despite them. Biofeedback may be one of the most powerful ways to help us do just that.
Biofeedback helps us monitor our bodies during times of stress so we can recognize our elevated heart rates and muscles tension and bring ourselves back to a place of relaxation. The process uses guided exercises and relaxation techniques so you can quickly get yourself out of fight or flight mode and into rest and relax mode.
I think one of the reasons my friend had always been so tired and cranky was because she was so stressed all of the time. When we’re chronically stressed, we become different versions of ourselves – the not-so-nice always-irritable versions whose glass is always completely empty!
My friend was also suffering from back and knee pain, which I know was exhausting her and making her feel old and cranky. Biofeedback has been shown to provide remarkable relief from pain, whether it’s from migraines, back pain, joint pain, biofeedback gives you the tools to modulate how you are perceiving and responding to the pain. Learning to regulate muscle tension and blood flow, people can significantly reduce their discomfort.
Anxiety and Depression
In a recent post I talked about the power of a smile. That the muscles in our face have a way of creating an emotional feeling in us. If you missed that blog, try to smile right now. Smile big. You probably notice that when you smile, you can feel a warm and fuzzy feeling in your chest. Research has shown that smiling stimulates the amygdala, the part of our brain that allows us to feel emotions, to release more emotionally positive neurotransmitters. This is a perfect example of the mind-body connection and how controlling your body can cause a change in your mental and emotional state.
Similarly, when we can regulate our heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and even skin temperature, we send signals to our brain that we are ‘at peace’ and ‘safe’. We now are in charge of our mental health instead of our mood being at the whim of exterior forces.
These are just some of the benefits of biofeedback. It has also been shown to boost brain health, improve athletic performance and offer better quality of sleep.
Getting Started with Biofeedback
If you’re interested in trying biofeedback, there are numerous companies other than Heart Math that manufacture at-home biofeedback machines. I did some digging and it seems like a quality machine can be purchased for $200 or less.
If you’d like a new way to try and get a hold of your mind and emotions in the new year, biofeedback may be just the thing!
Photo Attribute: https://www.instagram.com/dominikhofbaur