You are in conscious control of the vast majority of your movements. Every time you pick up your phone, lift your leg to walk, or turn the wheel in your car – you are consciously in control.
But, there are other functions that are involuntarily controlled by your nervous system such as your blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature. These involuntary functions are a response to your environment including exercise, temperature, and even the thoughts going through your head.
If your involuntary reactions are causing distressing symptoms, medications are often used to address the issues.
Stimulants are given to individuals with ADHD symptoms to help them focus better and longer. Sedatives are used to help us sleep. Anxiolytics are used to help us fight anxiety. These medications can work, but there are generally other effects associated with the medications that are less than desirable. Common side-effects are weight gain, grogginess, irritability, dry mouth, headaches, or nausea.
Even though many physical responses are considered involuntary, you can gain some control over the reactions without medications. Biofeedback is a type of therapy that allows you to use the power of your mind to gain awareness of the internal functions of your body and may lead to a much healthier response to your environment. Rather than using medications, biofeedback can help teach the brain and body how to create its own calming effects.
The following are 6 involuntary responses that may benefit from biofeedback therapy.
The lowering of the stress response through biofeedback can reduce the frequency and severity of both tension and migraine headaches. Harvard Medical School published a study showing that biofeedback training allowed a decrease of dependence on pain medication and less pain overall.
You do not necessarily need a diagnosis of ADHD to benefit from an increased ability to maintain focus and attention. When you are struggling to focus, the frequencies in the prefrontal cortex are not functioning as they should. Specifically, Theta waves are more dominant than Alpha and Beta waves. Neurofeedback can train your brain to increase the production of Alpha waves which enhances focus and attention.
Trying to sleep when your thoughts are moving at light speed around your head is not the easiest task. You may also experience tension and restlessness throughout your body that makes sleep seem like it is miles away. If too much activity is in the prefrontal cortex obsessive thinking is typically the result. If that activity moves toward the motor cortex then physical tension may result. If there is too much beta in the back of the brain than closing your eyes may cause anxiety. It’s a wonder any of us can sleep. It is possible through the use of biofeedback equipment to target the correct areas of the brain in order to alleviate insomnia symptoms.
Our world is stressful. Long-term stress has been shown to lead to high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, and even cancer. The use of biofeedback helps patients become aware of how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors interact. Biofeedback helps make the patient aware of how stress impacts the body. Using Heart Rate Variability (HRV) training can help you be more mindful of how you are responding to stressful situations. This type of training may enhance mood, reduce anxiety, and improve performance in the classroom, field, or boardroom.
Even though biofeedback is not a quick fix for addictions, Alpha and Theta training can help the brain to slow down and assist patients in self-producing the activity levels that can be created by alcohol.
Sports is one of the biggest uses of biofeedback training. Whole teams have used biofeedback methods to enhance performance on the field. Actors, musicians, surgeons, and artists may also decrease anxiety and increase their creative states through the use of biofeedback.