What on earth is "biofeedback" I hear you mutter! We experience biofeedback all of the time. For instance, when you watch a scary movie, your hands might become sweaty and your heart rate increases. If you move your attention away from the movie and think about something pleasant, these physical responses diminish. This is a simple, but valid, example of biofeedback.
Biofeedback is a tool and process that can be used to manage stress and other ailments. Biofeedback information is gathered using specialized instruments that measure one or more physiological markers including muscle tone, breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, brainwaves, skin temperature, and sweat production.
Biofeedback provides more precise measurements of these stress-related phenomena. You can literally measure your stress and the effectiveness of stress-reduction techniques. The best ways for you to manage stress will be different from those of someone else. Biofeedback is really a teaching tool, allowing you to witness the benefits of a particular intervention biologically in real-time.
Many health gadgets used within society can now provide some limited biofeedback insights to help with stress and relaxation responses. Health trackers such as Apple, Garmin and Fitbit often now come with heart and respiration rate monitoring. These can provide useful insights such as acknowledging an increased heart rate during a moment of anxiety or stress and watching your ability to lower this through a mindfulness session for example. These companies are also increasing creating apps and add on's such as breathwork and mindfulness which utilize the tracker's biofeedback abilities.
If you don't have a health tracker to hand, there are also some simple methods for observing biofeedback in yourself. Certain physical responses can be felt without equipment, such as when your muscles feel tense, the experience of shallow or fast-paced breathing, noticing an increase in weight, or breakouts in your skin. Tuning into your body's stress signals is a natural form of biofeedback. Just like you can observe changes using a tracker you can become more aware of the impact self-care measures have on your physical responses to stress.