Since being diagnosed with Dysautonomia in 2016, I have been using biofeedback as part of my daily routine, recommended by one of my doctors. Biofeedback is a technique that helps control some of your body’s functions, such as heart rate. The key is to control your breathing and your thoughts in such a way that it slows your heart rate into a more natural calming rhythm. This will in turn help with several things, such as tachycardia from POTS, quieting the sympathetic nervous system, the bodies “fight or flight” response when sensing danger, reducing negative effects of stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.
When using biofeedback, you are connected to a sensor that helps you receive information about your body. There are a few different types of biofeedback devices, but the one that I have been using is Inner Balance from HeartMath. The sensor attaches to your earlobe while you plug in the other end of the cord into your phone (you will have to download the app for this first). The Inner Balance technology allows you to analyze the heart rhythm, measured by Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which indicates how emotional states are affecting our nervous system. HRV allows us to take a look at the quality of the communication between the heart and the brain and this helps us to understand the direct impact of how we feel and perform.
I have been using biofeedback every morning for the past 2 years, right when I wake up, before I even get out of bed, for 10 minutes. Mornings are hard and usually my worst time of day with POTS and this helps a little bit to calm my nervous system and help mitigate some of the symptoms when I am just waking up. Because of the illness, I am not able to just pop out of bed or I will get really lightheaded and potentially pass out, amongst other things, so it usually takes me about 10-15 minutes after taking my medications for my body to adjust and my medication to kick in, which is why biofeedback has been helpful first thing in the morning. Even if you do not have Dysautonomia, this can be a very effective tool for all to use in stressful situations or if you just need a few minutes of calm and is something I definitely recommend!