Friday, November 4, 2011

The Heart Beat of Anxiety Relaxation by Michael Logan

Anxiety relaxation sounds like it is impossible to do, at first reading, doesn't it?

But the search term anxiety relaxation probably refers to how to relax from anxiety, and I can offer some experience there, having dealt with (and I am still dealing with) a heightened startle response and hypervigilence since I was six years old.

In fact, my children, once they learned that Daddy was really funny looking when surprised by a loud noise behind him have taken great delight in inducing a startle response by sneaking up behind me and yelling and then running away.

My first antidote for my ever present over vigilence was ethyl alcohol which works fast and works every time used.

However that medication comes with some serious side effects, and I do not recommend it for your anxiety relaxation.

What I can recommend after years of trying out various tools, like Transcendental Meditation, Chi Gong, EEG Biofeedback, heart rate variability biofeedback, bio-dots, handwarming biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, Open Focus, physical exercise, sweat lodges, binaural beat tapes, neurolinguistic programming, (after all, I am a counselor) is the heart rate variability biofeedback tool which includes Open Focus and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy components.

The one thing that makes this tool so superior in my mind is that it is learned. I can cue the physiology on any given heart beat and feel it happen. While the other tools I mentioned are powerful, they require time and often I do not have that time available. In other words, a learned behavior can be practiced on any given heart beat without equipment like computers, sensors, head phones, ect. The training is portable.

So heart rate variability biofeedback can be used as a lifestyle tool and not just as an antidote to anxiety.

I can practice heart rate variability biofeedback every five minutes for two heart beats to keep my heart beat coherent which means that every cell in my body will beat on that frequency too, and when my heart moves into that coherence I feel really good even though I have not gotten richer or grown more hair.

In other words, anxiety relaxation is an inside job. Anxiety Relaxation and Your Brain Fitness?

I first came across heart rate variability biofeedback in the late 1990's and began using it personally and professionally in 2000, so I had some years of experience teaching it to my clients in domestic violence and anger management groups when I first came across a reference to the brain fitness revolution that is going on now.

And heart rate variability biofeedback has been recommended as part of the tool set one needs to use to encourage neurogenesis or the growth of new neurons daily (that is right, replacement parts) and neuroplasticity, which is the term used to describe what neurons do, sometimes within minutes, when they learn something new.

If you have a 62 year old brain like mine which occasionally forgets where its glasses are, then you are probably interested in neurogenesis, which was only discovered a few short years ago.

OK, so maybe this brain fitness stuff is very confusing for you.

For a very clear and mostly jargon free overview, I suggest you read Brainfit for Life written by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.

They write about the pillars of brain fitness and how attending to those pillars prepares the brain for neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

Those pillars are physical exercise, the most important, nutrition including antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acid, sleep, stress management, since excess adrenalin and cortisol kill those new neurons, and novel learning experiences, which usually consists of the kind of learning involved in learning a new instrument or a new language.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a recommendation for heart rate variability biofeedback from one of the leading lights in the brain fitness field, Alvaro Fernandez.

For once I was actually ahead of the curve.

So it turns out that living a brain fit lifestyle also impacts your anxiety relaxation, much to the delight of your brain.

There are also some computerized brain fitness tools available for you to try out in your quest for neurogenesis.

The research is beginning to demonstate that there is great viability in them. Hope you enjoy.