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Biofeedback can help relieve stress

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Using technology to tame stress and anxiety

Using technology to tame stress and anxiety

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Using technology to tame stress and anxiety

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Just relax. How nice if it were just that easy, but as many people have discovered, relaxation can be elusive. Fortunately, therapy is returning to Johnson State College to help the afflicted manage stress and anxiety.

The Biofeedback program is run through the Wellness Center and the Behavioral Medicine Lab. It uses technology to help participants notice what causes their stress and anxiety and how they can control it and reduce it.

“Biofeedback is when we use technology – a program called ALIVE—and we use heart rate variability,” said Courtney Rollo, a student intern at Johnson State College. “We use this technology to help students recognize physiological changes in their body and we help them to manage those responses in order to help them reduce stress and anxiety.”

Simply put, Biofeedback uses monitoring sensors to track body functions such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, etc. The idea is that through a combination of sensor-derived data and mindfulness, people can consciously reduce their own stress levels by altering their physical responses to stressful events.

According to Rollo, the program was initiated by Associate Professor of Environmental and Health Sciences Amy Welch. “It all started because Amy Welch asked for a student intern to take on this and I’ve been doing research like shadowing,” says Rollo. “I had done an independent study with her before in Biofeedback to train to be a student intern. So I ended up volunteering to do this as an internship. Now I’m helping her get it all back started again. It has the potential to turn into a student research possibly later on.”

Rollo is hosting informational sessions around the campus at varied times, building on what has turned into an extensive outreach program to the JSC community. “It’s all over campus,” she said. “I’m doing demonstrations in different areas like the library. on various days in the afternoons. Stearns usually during lunchtime on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Mondays and Wednesdays usually in Dewey, in the women’s center. I’m going to be doing the residents halls starting next week, So I’ll be in Senators, Governors, and Arthurs on different days from 6-8 P.M.”

Students can also sign up for Biofeedback by emailing JSCBiofeedback@jsc.edu.

The orientation process is simple requiring only one visit and a little time. “It’s a onetime orientation,” said Rollo. “It’s less than an hour to just teach people how to use the equipment and what Biofeedback is.”

The publicity supporting the program seems to be reaching its intended audience, which is primarily JSC students.

“It was in the dining hall and they were handing out stuff and candy because it was Halloween, so it got my attention. I went over and I signed up,” said Gabby Straight, a JSC Sophomore and now a Biofeedback participant.

JSC freshman Madison Gilley’s interest also was initially piqued by the Biofeedback posters and emails. “I don’t know much about what Biofeedback is, but I’ve seen lots of posters around campus and I’ve gotten a few emails with information on it,” she said. “I’ve also found lots of little slips of paper laying around with Biofeedback information on them anytime I go to eat at the dining hall.”

For Straight, The Wellness Center’s involvement in the Biofeedback initiative seems like a natural outgrowth of what it provides for students: wellness in all ways. “I really like the Wellness Center and I utilize a lot of its tools and it’s just a really nice facility to have in general,” says Straight. “They do a lot of really cool things like light therapy and they have the service dogs come, but I know that the services they have there would help with reducing anxiety and stuff. It’s college, so if you say you don’t have anxiety then you’re probably a liar. As a college student, you’re either stressed or you’re anxious or you’re both, so I think that reaching out in this way is a really good move on their [Wellness Center] part…it’s something that everyone should be utilizing.”

Students can either meet in the Wellness Center, or the Behavioral Medicine Lab for orientation.

“That’s [the lab] up in the second floor of the Shape Gym,” said Rollo. “You have to have key card access to get into there. I only do orientations up in the Behavioral Medicine Lab when no one is available from the hours of 9-4 in the Wellness Center. So if someone had to meet later, I would probably do it there,” said Rollo.

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Biofeedback can help relieve stress