Stress Management

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What is stress?
What are the effects of stress?
How does neurofeedback reduce the impact stress?

What is stress?

Modern living, ever increasing demands at work, reduced time with the family and general information overload can take its toll and lead to feelings of stress.

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 staff-turnover.

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)
Eyes open
Eyes closed

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)
Eyes open
Eyes closed

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. .

               Copyright 2006