BYU biofeedback training relieves stress

A student's stress is measured with biofeedback equipment at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center. (BYU Counseling and Psychological Services)
A student’s stress is measured with biofeedback equipment at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center. (BYU Counseling and Psychological Services)

Stress rolls in quickly now that four weeks of school are underway and reality has set in, but BYU’s biofeedback stress management training for students remains largely untapped.

Biofeedback reveals how one’s body responds to stress. Biofeedback training focuses on controlling one’s emotions and responding to the body’s stress signals before they escalate.

Brett Hoffman, a senior studying communication disorders, is the receptionist for the BYU Counseling and Psychological Services Center, where the biofeedback services are offered. “I hadn’t heard about it until I worked here,” Hoffman said. “I’ve only done it once … but you learn how to recognize stress and how to cope with it, so it’s cool.”

The Counseling and Psychological Services Center offers one-on-one sessions with a biofeedback assistant, which includes measurement of body tension to reveal stress levels, assessment of stress factors, support for muscle tension and sleep issues and determination of optimal breaths per minute.

Biofeedback training as an avenue for stress management has been available for seven years at BYU. Hoffman said biofeedback training was a hidden treasure, considering the number of stressed-out students on campus.

“We have so many demands on us … there’s a lot that we’re trying to do,” Hoffman said.

Open biofeedback hours let students practice stress management skills at a computer station and discover preferential relaxation styles.

Hoffman also mentioned individual counseling for students. Psychologists are available to help with any stress-related issues including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addictions or sleep problems.

Top stressors for BYU students include due dates and exams, dating, marriage, graduate school and career paths, among others. College students are in a critical time when their decisions are life changing.

Accounting student Bethany Ritchie said long-term decisions stress her out. She swims or plays the piano to relieve stress.

“Having a little bit of ‘me time’ is stress relieving. I don’t have to entertain … or impress somebody,” she said.

Counseling and Psychological Services also lists a variety of ways to combat stress, including daily relaxation, proper nutrition, sleep and exercise, preparation and scheduling, goal setting and growing closer to the Lord.

Hoffman said trying to have a balanced life was the overall stressor for BYU students, enveloping school, social and family life, church, work and personal time.

“I feel like I’m always forgetting something,” said Daniel Bowman, a junior studying computer science.

Bowman combats stress by using his Google calendar. “Just get everything organized, and … don’t worry too much. Do it one step at a time, and everything takes care of itself,” Bowman said.

Whether it’s setting aside “me time” or organizing daily events, biofeedback management can help students find a solution to manage stress.


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