Stress & Biofeedback
Stress is part of our everyday life, and stems from both positive and negative internal or external events, typically involving any change we need to adjust to. It can help motivate us and improve our focus, or it can result in negative physical and emotional effects. One way to learn to manage stress is through self-regulation techniques, like biofeedback.
What is biofeedback and how does it work?
Biofeedback is a process in which you learn to gain greater awareness and control of your body's functions, such as your heart rate, by using instruments that provide "feedback" on the activity of such body systems. Biofeedback tools provide immediate feedback of your responses to stress and anxiety, and thereby help you to recognize and ultimately influence the relationship between psychological processes and physiological changes within your body. With regular practice, you can learn to regulate your response to stressful events and optimize your wellness.
CAPS uses the EmWave© system, a computer software program that teaches self-regulation through the feedback of heart rate patterns. The system uses sensory equipment to measure and monitor your heart rate, and provides both visual and audio feedback of progress. EmWave2© handheld devices are available to augment home practice. Visit HeartMath for more detailed information about this software program.
CAPS also offers several interactive meditation programs by Unyte© that use similar biofeedback mechanisms. The programs are designed to help you more effectively learn and practice meditation while obtaining real time feedback. Colorful and interactive games make this experience more fun and rewarding.
The benefits of biofeedback
The EmWave© Biofeedback system was designed for stress education and resilience training, and has been shown to improve mental clarity for decision-making and creativity, increase emotional balance, enable better and more restful sleep, counter negative emotions, improve focus and attention, and enhance performance and immune functioning.
Cautions and contraindications
Those with a medical or mental health condition should check with their physician or mental health professional to determine the suitability of the program, prior to its use. The following conditions, in particular, are cautioned:
- acute, severe or unstable medical illness
- disorders that involve severe, unstable autonomous nervous system, endocrine, or metabolic functions (e.g., diabetes)
- neurological conditions (e.g., seizures) and/or severe impairments of memory or attention
- irregularities of heart rhythm (e.g., atrial fibrillation, flutter, or intense clusters of premature atrial contractions)
- significant psychological disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, mania, major depression, paranoia, severe OCD, PTSD, or dissociation)
Interested in learning more?
Call CAPS at (509) 359-2366 or stop by Martin Hall, room 225. You can access our biofeedback services in one of two ways. You can either schedule an appointment with one of our counselors for a demonstration and personal coaching session or you can attend an orientation session on biofeedback, held once each quarter. When you are familiar and comfortable using the biofeedback equipment on your own, you can start using it in our "Chill Room" during CAPS office hours (8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday).