Mindfulness and Compassion-Based Biofeedback Decrease Stress

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A study in the new issue of the journal Biofeedback discusses how academic success is presumed to require the pain of self-sacrifice and self-criticism, while the harmful effects of stress are often accepted as the unfortunate yet inescapable byproducts of hard work.

Biofeedback
Volume 43 Issue 3

Stress, general anxiety, social anxiety, and even academic problems were lessened when participants implemented mindfulness and compassion-based techniques.

Biofeedback – Americans have a tendency to treat vacation days, sick leave, and paid time off like the plague. It is no surprise that this type of work ethic has trickled down to students, and the pressure to overachieve has made its way staunchly into the college culture. Universities have even set up stress and counseling centers to assist students in managing their overloaded lives and achieve their goals.

Recently, at a university stress management and biofeedback clinic, a study was conducted that combined mindfulness and compassion-based stress management techniques with biofeedback to enhance relaxation. The article “Pilot Study of a University Counseling Center Stress Management Program Employing Mindfulness and Compassion-Based Relaxation Training with Biofeedback” in the journal Biofeedback discusses how academic success is presumed to require the pain of self-sacrifice and self-criticism, while the harmful effects of stress are often accepted as the unfortunate yet inescapable byproducts of hard work. Calling such notions into question, this study suggests that the art of being mindful and self-compassionate may actually facilitate academic success and promote a more stable level of calmness.

The study was conducted over a two-year time period, in two different groups. During the first year, the study was separated into two phases. Mindfulness and compassion techniques were introduced during phase 1, and biofeedback was combined with mindfulness and compassion during phase 2. With the introduction of biofeedback, there was greater interest from the participants to implement the techniques, and decreased levels of anxiety occurred. In the second year, mindfulness, compassion, and biofeedback were all introduced simultaneously, and there was a more immediate rate of improvement.

Overall, this pilot study showed that stress, general anxiety, social anxiety, and even academic problems were lessened when participants implemented mindfulness and compassion-based techniques. The inclusion of biofeedback seemed to enhance therapeutic gains. In a society that can be quickly overwhelming, these skills are highly useful and will be beneficial beyond a university campus. The authors do note, however, that there were limitations when conducting this study and more research is necessary to have a more complete perspective of these techniques.

Full text of the article, “Pilot Study of a University Counseling Center Stress Management Program Employing Mindfulness and Compassion-Based Relaxation Training with Biofeedback,” Biofeedback, Vol. 43, No. 3, 2015, is now available.

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About Biofeedback
Biofeedback is published four times per year and distributed by the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. AAPB’s mission is to advance the development, dissemination, and utilization of knowledge about applied psychophysiology and biofeedback to improve health and the quality of life through research, education, and practice. For more information about the Association, see http://www.aapb.org.

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Jacob Frese
Allen Press, Inc.
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