When we’re plagued by muscle tension and chronic pain, we feel helpless. Most of us believe that body tension is outside our control. However, by learning simple methods we can reduce tension and in many instances reduce chronic pain caused by muscle tension. By breathing deeply, consciously relaxing our muscles, and visualizing peaceful, safe places we can ease body tension. These powerful tools to calm our body can help maintain mental poise as well.
But when we try to accomplish these goals on our own, we often don’t know how to gauge our success. To see how well we are doing, we need feedback, so we can continue to use methods that work, and change methods that don’t. Thanks to a method called biofeedback, we can find out how effective our relaxation methods are, and by working with a counselor, use these measurements to steer us in the direction we want to go.
Biofeedback can work with a number of physiological measurements, such as heart rate, muscle tension and the electrical conductivity of the skin. Based on the values it detects in our body, biofeedback equipment than shows us how we’re doing. Some equipment can show us with audible beeps, others with rising and falling graphs on a computer screen.
Typically we think we can control our muscles. When we lift a pen to paper, we consciously direct our voluntary muscles, and they obey our commands. However, deep muscle tension is often such a strong habit, we may not even be aware of it. Biofeedback can help us become aware of deep habits we’re barely aware of, and learn how to manage our body more effectively.
The mind and the body are knotted together, so changing one changes the other. For example, if we relieve the tension in the muscles around our head and neck, we may feel more relaxed, relieving the tensions of stress and anxiety. Often, anxiety is bundled up in nerve tension at various locations of the body. An experienced biofeedback therapist helps us identify the sources of tension, teaches us how to relax and reduce the mental symptoms that accompany chronic tension.
Biofeedback is a powerful tool of counseling to help us improve the relationship between our body and mind, that can help us learn how to manage those stresses that we can’t seem to get a handle on.