What can biofeedback help you with?
Biofeedback can address many conditions that are caused or worsened by chronic stress. It is a powerful tool for those simply looking for a different and medication-free approach to stress management. Biofeedback can also help individuals seeking to optimize their performance at work, school, in sports, or the performing arts.
High blood pressure
Digestive issues such as IBS
What exactly is biofeedback?
Biofeedback is an active training that helps people break the cycle of chronic stress - think of it like exercise or physical therapy for your nervous system. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is responsible for all of the things that keep us alive that we don’t need to think about (heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, etc). The ANS is also responsible for regulating our automatic stress response. This automatic response is our “survival mode.” However, the human body is not designed to endure sustained levels of high stress. When it does, symptoms and disease begin to express themselves.
Biofeedback trains your body to change and regulate things that are not typically in our conscious awareness - such as breathing, heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure, hand temperature and sweat response. Sensors are used to show us what is going on in your body (bio) to provide us with information (feedback) in realtime. This feedback is crucial - it is a window into your inner physiological world and increases your awareness of your own individual response to stress. The same feedback reinforces the new skills that you are learning so that you are able to master and integrate them into your daily life. Eventually, sensors and feedback are no longer needed when a person has mastered these skills.
There are several modalities of biofeedback. The foundation of all training at SoundMind Medicine begins with breathing and heart rate, though one’s training usually uses a combination of the following:
Respiration biofeedback, or breath retraining
Heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback
sEMG biofeedback (muscle tension)
Temperature biofeedback (learning how to warm hands/feet)
Galvanic skin response (skin conductance) biofeedback
How does biofeedback work?
The mind-body connection is a two-way street. How we are in our minds can affect our physical bodies, and vice versa. Under chronic stress, your body's nervous system often gets stuck in 'fight or flight' (sympathetic) mode, or it can immobilize. In biofeedback training, you will learn skills that help break the cycle of chronic stress. Over time, biofeedback training helps restore balance in your autonomic nervous system by shifting it out of constant survival mode to a more peaceful, resilient, and relaxed (parasympathetic) state.
There are three important steps of biofeedback training:
Gaining awareness of your own body's stress response
Learning and mastering new skills to help re-train your body and nervous system
Integrating your new skills into your daily life
In addition to the personal goals people set for themselves, there are two main objectives:
Increasing overall resilience to stress, decreasing symptoms
Learning how to self-regulate in the moment and implement tools when they are needed
In conjunction with biofeedback training and mind-body medicine techniques, Dr. Miller utilizes tenets of naturopathic medicine including botanical medicine, nutrient support, homeopathic medicine, and lifestyle changes when appropriate.
Though Dr. Miller's focus is mind-body medicine, it is naturopathic philosophy that guides her practice and treatment. Naturopathic physicians always strive to treat the whole person and root causes of illness, and honor the body's innate ability to self-heal. Naturopathy also recognizes the importance of the foundations of health, including clean air and water, sleep, good food, movement, and the surrounding environment. Breathing and being in our bodies are perhaps some of the most foundational of these aspects, as they are ever-present for our entire lives.