Stress tracking technology: Can wiring up calm us down?

A hand rigged up with sensors for heart rate, microsweat and peripheral temperature, which Hiroko Demichelis uses with clients to help them learn how they respond to stress. (David Horemans/CBC)

Real-time data help us understand our response to stress but experts warn of unfounded claims in consumer tech
By Lisa Johnson, CBC News Posted: May 17, 2017 6:00 AM PT

Sitting in front of a computer screen is not normally considered a stress busting tactic.

But clinical counselor Hiroko Demichelis uses real-time data — from an array of sensors strapped to her clients — to help them learn relaxation techniques.

“I think we are all in a great need to explore the science of calming down,” she said.

“We all know about the accelerator in the Ferrari, but somehow we have forgotten, lost track of the brake.”

Among her clinical tools for biofeedback is an interesting metric called heart rate variability — a sort of proxy measure for stress that’s been used in studies to help pregnant women and army recruits.

It’s also frequently popping up in consumer-level stress tracking devices, though experts warn the accuracy and usefulness of those technologies may be works in progress.

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Meditation’s Calming Effects Pinpointed in Brain

A new mouse study reveals a set of neurons that may point to physiological roots for the calming effects of breathing control

By Diana Kwon on March 30, 2017 from Scientific American

During yoga pranayama exercises people practice controlling the breath, or prana, to induce a state of calm and focus. Paying attention to breathing and slowing down respiration is a core component of many mindfulness practices. Research suggests the practice has multiple benefits—it induces an overall sense of well-being while reducing anxiety and improved sleep.

But what exactly is going on in the brain during meditation? Imaging studies of humans have shown brain regions involved in mind-wandering, attention and emotion are involved in various stages of mindfulness practice. A new mouse study, published Thursday in Science, shows that neurons in the brain stem may also mediate the link between breathing and inducing a state of meditative calm.

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Cycling Canada Partners with Thought Technology

Apeldoorn 2016
Day 3

OTTAWA, March 23, 2017 – Thought Technology has joined Cycling Canada’s family of performance partners with a commitment to provide biofeedback products and technologies to support Canada’s elite cyclists on the road to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

The long-term partnership will provide state-of-the-art biofeedback and neurofeedback technologies as tools to help evaluate and enhance psychophysiological performances across Cycling Canada’s high performance programs. For over 40 years, Thought Technology has provided technology solutions for optimizing performance across the globe. The Montreal based company has worked with the likes of NASA, the US and international military and police forces, gold-medal winning Olympic athletes, and many of the top professional sports leagues all over the world.

“We are thrilled to welcome Cycling Canada into our peak performance family, and in being welcomed into theirs,” said Lucas Borgo, Sales & Marketing Account Executive. “We look forward to working with them to provide measurable mental performance metrics and mental skills to their competitive teams.”

“Partnering with Thought Technology will allow us to develop a whole new aspect of our mental training service, which is such an important part of helping our team to perform under pressure,” said Andrea Wooles, Sports Science and Medicine Manager for Cycling Canada. “The equipment, training, and expertise that Thought Technology is providing will allow our riders to train their minds using feedback, similar to how they use power meters to help them train their bodies.”

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Making Your 2017 a Resilient and Successful Year

Dr Stephen Sideroff
by Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D.

I know we are beginning the month of March, but it’s never too late to awaken to the moment. In my effort to be the best version of myself and live a resilient and optimal life, daily stresses and periodic emergencies have their way of taking me off The Path. We all have this “survival bias”, an automatic tendency to look for the dangers in our lives that shifts us away from avenues of new growth and creativity.

There is something about the beginning of the year that serves to wake me up, to bring me back to my intentions. The mark of the calendar serves to reignite these intentions. I’d like to share this process with you, as it is an approach that can serve you as well.

One thing that stress tends to do is shift our thinking and behavior into “instinct mode”. With danger comes a shift from creativity and expansiveness, to more habitual behaviors. This might include taking the easier tasks first and leaving more important ones that then don’t get done. Or it might mean excessive worry that causes procrastination, fatigue and loss of sleep. These old patterns keep us stuck in life. When you keep doing things the same way, you get the same old results. New approaches are important for greater resilience and success.

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Students in holistic health classes able to weather stress of school, life

Students in the “Holistic Health 430: Foundation of Biofeedback and Self Regulation” class, from left, Garrett Peuse, Melanie Ruperto and Barbara Ribeiro, explore the level of muscle tension as monitored by electromyography.

By Jamie Oppenheim

Since the 1970s, Professor Erik Peper has been teaching students how to manage stress

As midterms loom and stress begins to take a toll on student health, those in Professor of Health Education Erik Peper’s holistic health classes may have an advantage over other students. They’re learning valuable self-care and stress management techniques that can help them navigate school and life more easily for years to come.

Every semester, students in Peper’s classes learn techniques to combat stress, which include relaxation exercises, visualizations, biofeedback skills and mindfulness practices. The classes often culminate with a project where students identify personal health issues or goals and develop plans to address them.

Eighty percent of those students report significant improvements in health, Peper said. One of these success stories was recently featured in a case study in the journal for the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. The student, a 20-year-old woman identified in the study as Melinda, suffered recurring migraines since she was 14, according to the case study. She said she suffered at least four migraines a week and was taking medication to manage her discomfort. After learning self-regulation, biofeedback and body awareness techniques, such as breathing exercises, posture changes and mindfulness, they disappeared.

“At the 20-month follow-up, the student continued to be headache-free,” Peper said in the case study. “This type of integrated self-healing educational approach is recommended for students, patients and anyone who wants to create lasting health changes.”

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How Biofeedback Therapy Helps To Treat Over 16 Medical Conditions


Various forms of biofeedback therapy — performed using certain muscle relaxation, breath and mental exercises — are now being proven in numerous studies to treat more than a dozen health conditions.

But how does this mind-body intervention work? At its roots, biofeedback therapy helps reduce a wide range of symptoms by lowering sympathetic arousal. Through identifying and changing certain mental activities and physical reactions, biofeedback trains patients to help regulate their own unconscious bodily processes and better control their stress response. Biofeedback therapy acts as a natural painkiller and a natural headache remedy, among other things.

See the full article How Biofeedback Therapy Helps To Treat Over 16 Medical Conditions

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Listen to your head and your heart: Heart Rate Variability 101


February 2017/by Morgan Ingemanson

Pop duo Roxette said it best: Listen to your heart. Words of wisdom to remember this Valentine’s Day. And, excellent advice when it comes to taking care of your health. In fact, listening to your heart can help you understand what is going on in your head!

One biomarker to rule them all

It’s no secret that doctors encourage patients to place high importance on maintaining heart health. And for good reason – heart disease is still the leading cause of death is the US. Keeping a close eye on biomarkers like cholesterol, heart rate, and blood pressure just comes with the territory of aging. But you could be skipping over a key biomarker that serves as a broad indicator of overall physical and psychological health for people of all ages: heart rate variability.

An introduction to Heart Rate Variability

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a measure of the variation in the time between individual heart beats. Rather than simply counting how many times your heart beats per minute, HRV measures how consistent the length of time between each beat is. HRV helps doctors understand if your heart is beating in a simple and predictable pattern, like a metronome, or in a more variable pattern.

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Tap your holiday stress-busting super power: Breathing

By Dana Santas, from CNN Updated 10:47 PM ET, Sun November 20, 2016

Despite the myriad joys the season brings, it can be a stressful time for many of us. Between shopping, cooking, travel, parties, house guests, winter storms and shorter days, the holidays pile on the stress with little regard for the continued demands of our everyday lives. Instead of feeling festive, we’re often left tense, irritable and exhausted.

The good news is that we’re all equipped with a natural superpower to manage stress: breathing.

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How to Reduce Stress and Improve Your Health

It’s a fact of life in today’s busy world that we all live with stress.

Want to learn how to manage stress better and be able to learn to relax better, and reduce the anxiety that we all feel in this modern world?

Biofeedback training may be the answer!

What is Biofeedback Training?

Biofeedback training is a way of learning how to feel the sensations that occur when your stress response is kicking in and discovering specific recovery techniques that help move your body back into a healthy rhythm of stress management….stress – recover – stress – recover etc. etc.

Read full article here