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Biofeedback is a therapy that teaches you how to use your mind to control physical functions such as your heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure. We know—you might be saying, “Wait, what?” But yes—the idea is that your mind can influence your body, at least in some ways! Biofeedback practitioners use a machine (known simply as a biofeedback machine) to measure how well you achieve “mind over matter.” Now, let’s be clear: No one is saying that your symptoms are all in your head (and we know that’s something you may have heard too many times). But, there is truth to the idea that the mind can heal—it’s a really powerful and amazing organ! If you’re looking to take charge of your health—and who isn’t?—biofeedback may be helpful. Here’s how it works: In a biofeedback session, small electrodes are attached to your skin to measure, say, sweating, heart rate, and muscle tension. The electrodes don’t hurt at all (in fact, they feel kind of relaxing)! Wires then send info to the biofeedback machine, which measures and displays the level of the body function it’s tracking. While you’re hooked up to the electrodes, biofeedback therapists teach you some different relaxation strategies, like deep breathing, guided imagery, and meditation. The machine provides instant feedback on how effectively each of the therapies works for you and exactly which function it has an effect on. Over time, you learn how to use these strategies to control your symptoms without the help of a machine. It’s like learning to ride a bike with training wheels—eventually you’re ready to ride without them! If you learn via the biofeedback machine that mindful meditation helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure, for example, you’ll know to carve out time for meditation the next time you feel any anxiety building. (Keep in mind that biofeedback differs from neurofeedback, which involves observing your own brain waves, and learning how to change them for improving emotional health and focus.)

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