Stress has long been connected to illness. It directly affects our level of wellness. Estimates say that 75 – 90 percent of all primary care doctor visits are for stress related problems. Just about every system of the body can be damaged by stress.
When the body reacts to stress over and over, it can lead to muscle tension, neck and back pain, heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, ulcers, and other stress related sickness that seem to have developed along with modern civilization and lifestyle. Hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure) is considered one of the most common risk factors for heart disease. One in four Americans has some sort of heart disease, which kills about one million Americans every year – about 50% of all deaths. 60 million people in the US have hypertension.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that people with high blood pressure, especially if it is stress related, can benefit from biofeedback (see www.aapb.org). One of the most common reasons for increases in blood pressure is due to stress.
What can you do about stress? You can increase your ability to better handle the effects of stress and your responses to it.
Biofeedback based treatments help people recognize and control their response to stress. Biofeedback is a tool like a mirror that helps you see if there is something you want to change, what direction to go in, and how much progress you are making in meeting your goal of change. Bathroom scales and highway lane markings are examples of everyday feedback tools.
The process of biofeedback uses electronic instruments to measure the body’s responses to stress. We can measure brain wave activity, muscle tension, skin temperature, skin conductance (sweat activity), heart rate and respiration. The signals are measured using sensors attached to the body and then connected to a biofeedback instrument. The person connected to the instrument sees what their levels are and how they are changing in response to stress or relaxation. Biofeedback clinicians use instruments to teach people how they react negatively to stress. They help people learn how to relax using the instruments as a guide.
To learn more about careers in biofeedback, free online introductory courses are available at www.biofeedbackinternational.com. Information about biofeedback certification is also available on the website. You may also call 877-669-6463 or 914-762-4646 for more information.