What situations or triggers typically make you feel anxious? Large social settings or interactions with others? Upcoming presentations or public speaking? Deadlines or growing to-do lists? These situational instances of anxiety are common to us all, but over time, they often morph into persistent or chronic anxiety.
Although there are a multitude of triggers and it manifests differently in our behaviors and emotions, anxiety can always be traced back to a specific type of pattern in your brain’s electrical activity.
What does this mean?
“Your brain’s electrical activity is measured in waves — like sound or light — and your brainwaves are like the dashboard gauges that show you how your brain is functioning,” says Dr. Ashley Wiegand, neurotherapist and psychotherapist at PALM Health. Based on what you are doing or what state of mind you are in, your brainwave activity shifts imperceptibly. It’s similar to your heart rate — depending on what you are doing and how you’re feeling, your heart rate fluctuates, but oftentimes it’s so subtle that you can’t feel it happening.
When you’re anxious in certain situations, your brain shifts into a state of hyperactive brainwaves (also known as “beta” waves or “fast” waves), and when you’re persistently or chronically anxious, your brain locks itself into that state long-term. Similarly, when you’re stressed, emotionally dysregulated, or unfocused, there are certain brainwave patterns associated with those states as well.
When you’re calm or regulated, on the other hand, your brainwaves are functioning at a lower frequency (also called “alpha” waves).
So, when it comes to alleviating and treating anxiety, stress, and more, the short-term goal is to get your brain waves back to a quieted state, and the long-term goal is to keep your brain in that state, so you’re able to stay calm in situations where you might usually have trouble. But how do we do this?
That’s where NeuroFit comes in.
What is NeuroFit?
NeuroFit is a type of neurofeedback technology. According to Dr. Wiegand, “Neurofeedback is a technique that measures your brain waves, records it, and provides live feedback in the form of visual or auditory cues that lets you know what your brain is doing.” Essentially, it’s a way to learn about your own physiology with the help of a machine.
This is how it works: during your live feedback session you are watching a video that is controlled by the neurofeedback technology that detects your brain waves. When your brain naturally shifts into a more anxious state, the video will shut off. When your brain naturally shifts into a less anxious state, the video will come back on. The positive reinforcement of having the video come back on tells your brain that it is moving in the right direction and provides an incentive for it to do that again.
Over time, this shows your brain what it feels like to be in that less-anxious, calmer, emotionally-regulated state and trains it to be able to come back to that state on its own when it detects the onset of anxiety. The goal is for that state to eventually be your brain’s norm.
How NeuroFit Can Transform Your Wellness Routine
Because that fast-wave brain state is common to anxiety, stress, and poor brain performance, NeuroFit can be used to treat a number of things. “It’s also extremely useful for those who struggle with mood/emotional regulation, focus and attention issues, and headaches.” says Dr. Wiegand.
Peak brain performance can be taken in many contexts, whether that’s for your business, for athletic purposes, or for academic endeavors. NeuroFit can actually train your brain to reach a flow state more quickly and efficiently. A “flow state” is what is most commonly known as being “in the zone” — a state where your body and mind become fluid. You are totally absorbed in and completely focused on whatever you are doing — be it work, art, exercise, writing, or another activity. Being able to reach a flow state is beneficial for your tasks at hand and for ensuring that your brain is reaching peak performance, so if you feel like you’ve had some trouble getting “in the zone,” NeuroFit can be a useful tool for you.
Anxiety, stress, mood, headaches, focus, and brain performance are all things that can be improved to a certain extent with a healthy lifestyle — such as diet habits, regular exercise, and stress management techniques. But if you’re feeling particularly stuck in one or more of those areas, a service like NeuroFit can provide the additional support you may be looking for.
Available as a wellness therapy at PALM, and with seven different program options depending on what your goals are, NeuroFit is an accessible, advanced service that can be a transformative component of your wellness plan.
It’s important to stick with it and continue to train your brain regularly with NeuroFit over a long period of time. If you decided to work on building up your muscles, you would commit to several months of training in the gym in order to start seeing results. If you decided to learn how to ride a bike or pick up a new skill, it would take time and many practice sessions before it became second nature.
NeuroFit brain training is no different — it can take anywhere from 5-10 regular sessions to begin noticing a difference in your daily life. The more you train your brain, the better it will become at disengaging from that anxious state and reaching a maintained state of calmness, focus, and optimal functioning.
PALM Health is an innovative lifestyle medicine and wellness center that offers a comprehensive range of advanced medical and wellness services, empowering people to transform their health and feel their best in mind and body.