Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Hands on Exercise

When diagnosed with serious or chronic illness, people often feel a loss of control and that their bodies have failed them. Biofeedback training can help people learn self-regulation strategies to help them cope more effectively.

A common type of biofeedback is thermal or hand-warming biofeedback.  Thermal biofeedback training has proven very useful for those who suffer from migraine headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, pain, stress, asthma and other lung disorders, digestive disorders, treatment side-effects and many other conditions.

The main goal of thermal biofeedback is to assist in measuring your level of stress through skin temperature. The higher the stress level, the lower your hand or foot temperature (75° F is cold, 70° F or below is very cold). The lower the stress level, the higher your hand or foot temperature will be (90° F with a training goal of 95-96° F).

We often use thermal biofeedback in conjunction with different relaxation training exercises to teach someone how to reverse the fight/flight response and quiet their body and mind. This results in warm hands (which means you are calm), the ability to think more clearly and handle daily stresses more easily.

Although biofeedback training is very helpful in giving you the verification that you are reaching your goal, you don’t really need it to learn to self-calm and warm your hands. You can simply pay attention to how cold your hands are. One way to do this is to put your hands against your cheeks and see if they feel cold. If they do, your hand temp is likely in the 70’s. If they are warm to the touch, they are in the upper 80’s or 90’s. If your hands are cold, practice some kind of relaxation technique.

I have explained a number of different techniques in past blogs but one fool proof exercise is deep breathing.


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