Biofeedback helps mitigate stress


Lena Stange
USAG Wiesbaden Public Affairs
Many factors in life can cause stress for people. Work can be one of them. Enlisted military personnel had the most stressful jobs in the United States in 2018, according to statista.com.
“I had a client years ago,” said Rich Hoke, director of AWC. “He was active duty military, and he had been deployed four or five times to Iraq. He used the biofeedback and the stress management training…He was very stressed, fidgety, irritated easily…After the fifth session, he really learned how to control his anxiety and stress through the tool. He felt a lot better, had more energy. ”
Good stress relief techniques and coping skills can be helpful when stress becomes overwhelming, Hoke said. The Wiesbaden Army Wellness Center offers biofeedback and education in stress management.

During a biofeedback session, the client sits in the massage chair and is connected to a machine that measures heart rate and heart rate variability. Measurements show on the screen indicating the level of stress or relaxation the body is experiencing, and how well the applied technique, such as deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery, is working.

Biofeedback is a method used to show clients how to control physiological functions of their body, in this case the body’s stress response. The AWC teaches meditation techniques and monitors heart rate and heart rate variability. The purpose is to bring the heart rate down and increase the coherence of the heart rate variability. Clients can see on a monitor that the techniques actually work.
“Biofeedback is a basic tool that measures your ability to be in touch with yourself. There is a direct correlation between your heart rate and the stress level,” Hoke said. “So we try to get a person to get in tune with that, either through deep breathing, guided imagery or muscle relaxation. We talk you through those things to get you to relax and to really bring the heart rate down so that you can stay in a state of coherence basically.”
After a stress management class where people learn about the theoretical background, they can make a biofeedback appointment and start practicing. They will be connected to a machine and on a monitor they can see their heart rate and heart rate variability.
In various sessions, different relaxation techniques can be tried out. The AWC teaches deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Deep breathing sends the message to your body and brain that functions can slow down now.
“Mindfulness meditation increases awareness of the present by focusing on your breathing, body and thoughts. With continual practice, this technique trains the brain to stay in the present moment and can help you accept things for what they are, without judgment,” according to AWC information.
Guided imagery is a process that uses imagination. To the body, images and experiences created in the mind can be as real as actual events. Imagining a relaxing experience in a relaxing place, the body will react by releasing healthy hormones and biochemical that help your body rest and restore itself, according to AWC.
All adult Department of Defense ID card holders are eligible for these services, including Soldiers, civilians, dependents and local nationals. For appointments, call (06371)9464-1478, DSN: 590-1478 or visit the AWC in Bldg. 1201, second floor, parking lot entrance.