By Scott J. Banks, Joe Kraynak, J. J. Virgin

Biofeedback is a mind‐over‐matter approach to treating common physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic pain, depression, epilepsy, headaches (including migraines), high blood pressure, post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Raynaud’s disease, sleep disorders, and urinary incontinence.

In a typical biofeedback session, a practitioner hooks you up to one or more monitors to measure heart rate, breathing, brain wave activity, muscle tension, skin temperature, and sweating. These monitors are connected to a feedback device that lets you know, via simple visual or auditory signals, when your bodily functions are revving up or slowing down.

The practitioner engages you in one or more relaxation exercises, and you practice using these techniques while monitoring your own progress. Over time, the positive physiological changes persist without the use of biofeedback.

A session typically lasts 30 minutes to an hour. The number of sessions required varies, depending on the condition and your progress in mastering the relaxation techniques. As you might guess, the cost can get pretty steep, and few insurance plans cover biofeedback. The good news is that you can practice many of these relaxation exercises at home.

To find a qualified biofeedback practitioner, visit the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback website and click Find a Practitioner. For home use, try emWave2 manufactured by HeartMath.