Heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback uses scientifically validated tools to help manage stress and anxiety. It helps one more calmly and intelligently respond to stressors big and small. It improves emotional balance, mental clarity, and resilience. The U.S. military, law enforcement, and leaders of Fortune 500 companies use HVR biofeedback. Samaritan Center now offers it too.
Heart and Brain Communication
Most of us learn in school about how the brain is in constant communication with our body’s organ systems. This is especially true of the heart and cardiovascular system. For example, our thoughts can cause us to have heart palpitations and make it hard for us to catch our breath. What and how we think can cause measurable changes in our heart rhythm. Anxious, depleting thoughts can result in a heart rhythm that is erratic and incoherent. However, happy and calming thoughts result in a more coherent heart rhythm.
New scientific studies have demonstrated that the heart communicates nearly twice as much information to the brain as the brain does to the heart. The more coherent our heart rhythm, the calmer we are. We think more clearly and are better at making good decisions. We can actually learn to affect a coherent heart rhythm through special techniques and use of HRV biofeedback technology.
A State of Coherence
When communication between the heart and brain is optimal, we are in sync with ourselves. This is known as a state of coherence. It is the healthy and cooperative alignment between heart, mind, and emotions. Higher coherence supports emotional balance and access to intuition. For instance, it improves mental functions like focus, clarity, memory, bigger picture thinking, improved reaction times, and coordination. Coherence can be consciously achieved. It is a skill that can be practiced and developed over time.
How HRV Biofeedback Works
A healthy heart in a resilient nervous system is not a metronome. It is normal and healthy to have slightly different intervals of time from one beat to the next. This is heart rate variability, or HRV. HRV biofeedback technology monitors and provides a recording of changes in HRV over a period of time.
Here’s how it works. An ear pulse sensor monitors the heart rate and displays it on a computer-based app. Each 45-to-60-minute coaching session includes real-time monitoring of HRV. Clients learn and apply techniques to quell anxiety and maintain focus and presence. Treatment length averages 4-6 sessions, either weekly or every other week, with at-home practice between sessions. Services are available for adults and adolescents. Individuals develop skills for self-regulation, improve focus and performance, and reduce the impact of anxiety and stress.
Consistent practice of these techniques can:
- decrease anxiety and depression,
- reduce blood pressure,
- improve sleep, and
- increases athletic, school, and job performance.
Over time, clients develop the ability to remain focused, think clearly, and communicate more effectively even during stressful situations. Therefore, they find themselves recovering faster after stressful events. The skills learned can be applied almost anywhere and at any time – while taking an exam, presenting to a large group, dealing with a challenging co-worker, preparing for a competition, or attempting to fall asleep at night.
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