Not because you shouldn’t.
Because you can’t.
To be in a calm and relaxed state more of the time would be a welcome and healthful adjustment for many of us.
But you can’t try to relax.
It’s physiologically impossible. It will only lead to failure and frustration.
And the harder you try, the harder you’ll fail.
Let me explain.
Trying – as in trying to do anything – is an action that invokes the sympathetic nervous system – the regulator of your “fight or flight” response. Any intention placed toward any activity will upregulate this response. Muscles tense. Blood vessels constrict. Body temperature and perspiration rates shift.
This may happen in obvious and apparent means. Like when you suddenly need to run away from an angry dog who is barking menacingly and moving in your direction. But more often this happens in far more subtle, nearly impossible to detect ways. We go about our days getting our endless tasks accomplished, often with a growing list of to-dos in front of us. This sympathetic response allows us to get ‘er done, keeping us up to the task at hand.
Relaxation, on the other hand, engages the parasympathetic nervous system. “Rest and digest.” Upregulation of this system has an opposite effect. Muscles relax. Blood vessels dilate. An overall calmative shift takes place. We typically welcome these feelings. But in today’s busy and hectic world, this state of mind often seems pretty hard to come by.
And so, as seems to make logical sense, we try by all means to get there. With smartphone apps and online meditation tools and yoga classes and podcasts and Netflix binges, food binges, alcohol binges, and all the rest. We try to get there. And any of those things (or at least some of those things) may very well help us to upregulate our parasympathetic nervous system and get closer to that monk-like state of nirvana bliss. Or at least relax a little. But first we’ve got to get the “try” out of way.
So enters Biofeedback Therapy.
Biofeedback is an in-office therapy that uses state of the art technology which allows us to key into subtle changes in your physiological functioning – breath rate, heartrate, skin temperature and perspiration – to determine how to actually maximize your parasympathetic balance and allow your body to relax. In contrast to our do do do culture, we learn how to get out of the way, do less and permit the work to happen. This is in each of our control, and it’s remarkable when that actualization takes place and awareness takes hold. This shift can affect many of the health issues that people struggle with on a daily basis, because stress is such a dramatic aggravator of illness. Just some of the conditions that can be improved by biofeedback treatment include:
- Migraine headaches and tension headaches
- Chronic back pain, neck pain and other pain disorders
- Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Anxiety, nervous tension and depressive disorders
- IBS and many disorders of the digestive system
- High blood pressure and its opposite, low blood pressure
- Atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias
- Raynaud’s disease (a circulatory disorder that causes uncomfortably cold hands)
- Tinnitus and TMJ disorders
- Performance enhancement
The greatest benefit of biofeedback therapy is that over time you train yourself to become more balanced in your nervous system and through your entire body. After a series of treatments, you no longer need regular formal sessions, and the benefits can last indefinitely. And all without needing to take a drug or supplement. It is truly taking your health into your own hands.