Naturally, stress affects people in
different ways. However, here are some of the common signs of stress:
• Poor sleep quality
• Concentration difficulty
• Increased irritability
• Increased consumption of caffeine, alcohol and/or nicotine
• Heart palpitations
• Feelings of a “lump” in throat or stomach
• Frequent dry mouth and slight tremor of the hands
• Constantly feeling that something needs to be done
• Major difficulty in relaxing
If you frequently experience these
symptoms then it may be as a result of high levels of stress. Reasons
for suffering from stress can include continued excessive pressure or
responsibility at work, and experiencing important personal life
events, such as moving house or getting married.
What are the effects of stress?
Prolonged experiences of stress can have a detrimental effect on our
health and if not dealt with properly can lead to long-term
psychological and physiological problems. These include anxiety,
depression, heart disease, digestive system disorders, increased blood
pressure, headaches or musculo-skeletal disorders (e.g. back pain).
When feeling stressed we perform less
well. Research in companies and organisations have shown that stressed
workers are more likely to be unhealthy, poorly motivated, less
productive and less safe at work. Long-term stress in the workplace may
lead to psychological problems, prolonged absenteeism and high
How does neurofeedback reduce the impact stress?
In order to reduce feelings of stress it is necessary to change the way
our brain responds to it. If your brain is oversensitive/reactive to
stress it will have difficulties in “winding” down after a stressful
day. In a sense, stressed brains have difficulty in recovering from
stressful events. Neurofeedback directly addresses this imbalance by
training the brain to enter particular “neural” states which are
conducive to relaxation and recovery.
When we close our eyes, our
brain tends to produce alpha waves - it is essentially a recovery stage
where the brain is recharging its energy. When we open our eyes, the
alpha waves diminish, which is called alpha blocking. However, people
that are stressed, nervous, fearful and anxious about the future, often
fail to enter this recovery stage. In essence, their brains cannot
recharge, which over a prolonged period of time, may lead to exhaustion
and eventually to burn-out.
The two brain maps below illustrate this
stressful state. There is a failure to increase/enhance alpha waves
when in the eyes closed condition, which is indicated by little change
in the blue colour from the eyes open condition. Continued alpha
blocking during eyes closed is just one indicator that is sometimes
present in people that are stressed.
Low alpha (8-10.5 Hz)
In contrast, healthy alpha blocking and
alpha enhancement when opening and closing the eyes during rest is
shown in the next pair of brain maps below. The extent to which alpha
is increased during eyes closure, indicated by the orange and red
colours, is correlated with reported feelings of amusement and pleasure
a few minutes prior to recording, as well as with general positive
feelings in everyday living.
Low alpha (8-10.5 Hz)
If you or one of your employees
experience high levels of stress, neurofeedback training can help
reduce the negative effects this can cause. A course of neurofeedback
for stress reduction lasts approximately 10-20 sessions, but this is
only a guide as requirements for each individual differ. .