April 22, 2017
In our last article about stress and back pain, we touched upon stress management counseling, one of the offerings in our center. As discussed in the article, stress is more than an emotion. It is a hard-wired physical response that can permeate the entire body. In certain situations stress can help you respond to difficult situations, but over time, chronic stress can have profoundly negative health effects on your brain, heart, gut and immune system. The great news is that along with counseling techniques, biofeedback assessment and training enables you to have better control over the mind and body, including aspects that would seemingly be uncontrollable.
“Biofeedback may look and feel a bit like science fiction to those who’ve never tried it before, but it all makes sense once you go through the initial session” says Mike Lodish, our specialist in stress management and biofeedback. “The biofeedback devices give my clients cues, however it’s the power of one’s mind that is what’s most incredible in being able to control our bodies.”
First, sensors (connected to a monitoring system) are attached to the client’s body. This allows for five areas of physiological functioning to be measured in relation to nervous system activity, providing a window into your stress levels. The five types of biofeedback utilized are:
- Thermal: measures skin temperature
- Skin Conductance: measures sweat gland activity
- Respiration: measures breathing rate
- Heart Rate Variability (HRV): measures coherence (balance) of the heart
- Electromyography (surface EMG): measures muscle tension
Clients are then introduced to a series of exercises that include breath control and mindfulness along with counseling support. “Clients are almost always surprised that visualization or breathing techniques can really help them enter a state where they feel more relaxed in an incredibly visceral way,” says Mike. “The more time you spend doing stress management therapy, the better you become at detecting your stress and coping with it as it occurs.”
The ultimate goal is to see improved mental and physical functioning such as: enhanced mood – calmer & happier; better cognitive functioning – focus & memory; lowered blood pressure; reduced muscle tension; healthier digestive processing; and restored sleep quality. Clients also often report feeling more energetic and having a better work/life balance.
“Throughout life there will inevitably be stressful moments, but it is how you deal with those moments that matters most. You do have the ability to control how stress is going to be processed in your brain and body, and my practice supports you tapping into the ability to do so” says Mike. “If you can control your stress, then you are definitely going to be healthier and have a better quality of life. The best part is that stress management counseling doesn’t involve medications or any invasive procedures, and it integrates well with so many other treatment programs offered here at Midtown Integrative Health & Wellness.”