October 7, 2013
Science Daily/Case Western Reserve University
In a pilot study, 20 grandmothers were able to lower their stress levels with a biofeedback device that tracks breathing patterns.
Looking at ways to reduce such negative factors, the nursing school's Jaclene A Zauszniewski, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN; Tsay-Yi Au, PhD, RN; and Carol Musil, PhD, RN, FAAN, tried biofeedback techniques that focus on heart rate variability (HRV) to reduce stress, negative emotions and depressive thoughts and help grandmothers cope with the added responsibilities.
While the study was small, it showed promise in that self-reported stress and negative thoughts were reduced during and after using the device.
The researchers report their findings in the article, "Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback in Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren: Effects on Stress, Emotions and Cognition," in the special issue of Biofeedback from the Association for Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback.
The grandmothers used the device at home for four weeks. They were taught to insert their left index finger into the sensor clip on the devise that detects their pulse rate and, while doing so, to inhale and exhale slowly while observing waves on the device's screen. Thus, over time, they learn to coordinate their breathing with their heart rate.
The first significant improvement came two weeks after using the device, and also at eight and 14 weeks. The researchers suggest that the noticeable reduction in stress warrants a larger study.