1. The StressEraser.
2. Screen Shot of a Stressful State.
3. Screen Shot of a Relaxed State.
In my last post I mentioned I was experimenting with a biofeedback device called the StressEraser. It’s been helpful if I wake up tense in the middle of the night. Even better, it helps me sleep more restfully if I use it just before bedtime. It has also made me more aware of my breathing during the day, especially when I catch my breath … literally forgetting to breathe. I’ve been doing that surprisingly often. The big difference is I notice it now. That’s a big payoff for the small amount of time I’ve been spending with the device…averaging about 15 to 20 minutes a day.
What It Measures
What exactly does the StressEraser do? It uses an infrared detector to measure the the tiny changes in your pulse rate, which it displays as a wave. These changes are related to the state of your nervous system, so you can tell when you are becoming more or less relaxed. Figure 1 shows a screen shot of a person in a stressful state (notice the ragged graph and all the single squares), and Figure 2 shows one of a person in an ideally relaxed state. My waves aren’t that regular even when I’m getting good marks (3 squares) for being relaxed, but I can definitely see the difference.
Why It Works For Me
I’m a visual person, so I appreciate being able to see…right away… what’s going on. I also love to experiment, so I haven’t only been following the recommended procedure: focusing on my breath and counting how long it takes. I’ve been trying other things, like chanting, slowly saying affirmations while exhaling, etc. With the device I can see how my organism responds, and it turns the process into a game. It also lets me see which techniques work best for me.
And, as I said, I’m much more conscious of my breathing during the day. The StressEraser has taught me to notice how I’m exhaling. I used to think I had to take slow deep breaths to calm myself, but the device has taught me that all I have to do is exhale slowly and completely. If I expel all the air in my lungs, inhaling will take care of itself.
Would I Recommend It For You?
If you’re interested in a portable biofeedback device I would suggest reading about both the StressEraser and another device called the emWave at amazon.com. Read the descriptions and also the reviews from people who have used them. The devices are expensive and do require some commitment. Also different things work for different people, so I personally would buy one only if I could return it within a reasonable time period, usually 30 days.
Even if you decide against buying one of the devices, I would recommend experimenting with your breathing. If you focus your mind away from stressful thoughts and gradually start breathing at a rate of less than 6 1/2 breaths per minute, there’s a good chance you will easily slip into the relaxation response. At least that’s the way it works for me!
What about you? How do you calm yourself when your life starts to become hectic? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Images by StressEraser.
Thanks to bikehikebabe and Ellen for commenting on last week’s post.