STRESS MANAGEMENT and BIOFEEDBACK TRAINING 2011 // Barbara Morrell, PhD, BCIAC, Updated May 2012, design by Loren Brown Stress Management Stress Management is like learning to drive. Our Stress Response, the Fight/Flight/Freeze Response, is like an inborn gas pedal that revs up our mind & body in reaction to stress as well as danger. Our Relaxation Response is like a brake we can apply to calm down when we are speeding out of control from stress. What makes Stress Management so difficult? Our inner gas pedal is automatic. We go from 0 to 60 in an instant in response to any stressor Our mind does not differentiate danger from stress Our inner brake is not automatic. It takes awareness and practice to •Catch ourselves “speeding” •Develop skills to relax “at will” •Maintain appropriate cruising speed •Make braking more automatic Stress & the Mind / Body Connection Resting or Working Mind and Body Muscles: Contract as Needed, then Relax Mind: Focused, Clear Thinking & Memory Hormones: Regulating Normally Heart Rate/Blood Pressure: Normal, good circulation Breathing: Smooth, Deep, Slow Stomach: Digesting normally Sweat Glands: As needed to cool off Immune System: Protecting the body Emotions: Manageable Stress Response: Faster, Stronger for Survival Muscles: Tense Up, Poised for Action Mind: Instinctive; Higher thinking shuts down Stress Hormones Released: Adrenalin, Cortisol Heart Rate: Speeds Up to pump more blood to muscles Breathing: Shallow and Quick Stomach: Digestion shuts down;“butterflies” Sweat Glands: More active Immune System: Shuts down to conserve energy Emotions: Fear, Anger, Panic Nervousness Stress & Modern Man = PRIMITIVE STRESS RESPONSE HIGHLY DEVELOPED BRAIN STRESS The fight or flight response becomes over-active and maladaptive in the fast-paced modern world of constant psychological stressors The stress response impairs our concentration, working memory, rational thinking and ability to function. Only humans carry our stress around with us: Much of our stress comes from our worries, fears, expectations, regrets, selfcriticisms, and negative perceptions Our stress level is determined more by our perception of the stressor than the stressor itself What is supposed to be a burst of energy for survival results in chronic stress with many consequences for health and wellness Why *Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Anxiety, Insomnia. . .. After they outrun the lion. . . . . .they go back to grazing, playing, etc. We need to stop running when we are not being chased! * See Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers, Robert M. Sapolsky, 2004 Stress & Performance Peak Performance H PERFORMANCE high Normal Fight/Flight/Freeze Responses to Psychological Stress Overload low medium L high Decrease in Performance Poor Concentration & Memory Anxiety, Nervousness Feeling Overwhelmed (Freeze) Avoidance of Tasks (Flight) Giving Up (all or nothing) Emotions: Bottled up, Erupt, LEVEL OF STRESS Yerkes-Dodson Principle Robert M. Yerkes, M.D. and John D. Dodson, M.D, 1908 Roller-Coaster (Fight or Flight) Depression, Hopelessness Awareness Notice the signs of stress Mental/Emotional Signs of Stress Physical Signs of Stress • • • • • • • • • • • Poor concentration/focus Feeling Anxious Feeling Upset, Irritable, Angry, etc Feeling overwhelmed, helpless Wanting to avoid or run from tasks Mind racing Muscle Tension Pounding Heart Chest or Stomach discomfort Cold and/or Sweaty hands Trembling or Shaking Effective Stress Management = Effective Braking Whenever we notice signs of stress, especially stress overload, that is the time to put on the brake • Relaxation Skills • Changing stress inducing thoughts to stress reducing thoughts • Physical Exercise • Etc. Relaxation Skills Training They are called skills because they take It takes only 10 minutes practice like any other skill. a day to learn the skills Choose a time that fits into your routine: At bedtime Break from studying Etc. Deep Relaxation Bring the car to a complete stop for a needed break from stress 10 or more minutes once a day… Conditions our minds and bodies to more easily let go of tension and stress Teaches skills to use as brief techniques throughout the day Protects the Immune system Helps prevent or improve stress related health problems Brief Relaxation Tapping the brake throughout the day as needed to calm ourselves when stressed Brings us back to peak performance Can be used proactively to prevent stress overload • • • Deep breathing every hour for a few minutes Quick body scan every hour to prevent tension build-up Etc. Once learned, any relaxation technique can be used as a brief technique. Biofeedback Any kind of feedback from the body - Biofeedback programs measure stress indicators in the body - Biofeedback helps with awareness of stress and tension - Biofeedback training can teach us to release tension and stress EMG / TEMP / SR Biofeedback Muscle Tension (EMG) • We tend to brace against stress • Constant muscle tension can cause tiredness, pain, headaches, etc. Hand Temperature (TEMP) • The stress response pumps blood to the large muscles to power us up • This decreases circulation to the hands and feet making them colder • Hand temperature can range from 68◦ to 98◦ Sweat Gland Activity (SR) • Sweat glands are the most reactive indicator of stress in our body • Known as the Galvanic Skin Response • Measured as Skin Resistance or Skin Conductance Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback Measures Heart Rate and Heart Rhythms Trains us to use diaphragmatic breathing and positive mental/emotional focus to achieve calmness and mental clarity Teaches Autonomic Balance-- balance between our gas pedal and brake--for peak performance One of the best ways to learn to “put on the brake” *For more information see Introduction to Heart Rate Variability PPT HRV Fun Interactive Biofeedback Programs • emWave: Learn diaphragmatic breathing •Dual Drive: Calm breathing wins the race •Relaxing Rhythms: Games & Activities improve calmness, emotional balance, and meditation Awareness Practice = Effective Stress Management How will we support you in using the KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS you learn here in your daily life? We will help you to choose an Awareness goal and Practice goal We will ask you about your goals, progress, stress, etc. when you return (examples on the back of the practice form) We will refer you to appropriate resources We will help you customize your biofeedback and relaxation training for your stress issues. Practice Resources Website: google “BYU biofeedback” Downloadable relaxation recordings List of CD’s we use in the lab for checkout from library Handouts for awareness, knowledge and techniques Stress Management Tips EZ-Air breath pacer Download FREE for 30 days: http://bfe.org/ EmWave program and EZ-Air on computers in Career and Academic Support Center, WSC 2590 Take ID to check out sensor Two Ways to Access Biofeedback Services Make an Appointment for One-on-One Biofeedback Training o o o o Severe anxiety, depression, etc. Headaches, sleep issues, etc. Muscle tension, hand temperature, and galvanic skin response biofeedback Personalized relaxation recordings And/Or Come During Open Biofeedback Hours* o Before and/or between biofeedback appointments o Class assignments o For typical college student stress management issues o Fun Interactive biofeedback games on individual computer stations o Intensive Relaxation training *See current schedule (link). The first three individuals are admitted each hour.