Nov 21, 2006
By: Alvaro Fernandez
In the post Trader Peak Performance and biofeedback programs we showed the Heart Rate Variability patterns correlated with levels of a) anxiety or b) Peak Performance, “The Zone”. Biofeedback supports our emotional self-regulation: we can visually track what is going on inside us and train ourselves to manage our emotional state. On the left you have an example of my own performance during a 5-minute experiment 4 months ago. At the top, you see my name; at the bottom, the duration of the session. Right axis, for top half, is Heart Rate. (This is only the half left of the screen in the program-the right half would give you more information.) I have highlighted several phases:
A: you can see long waves following a smooth rhythm-that is the physiological “The Zone”, where I can perform at maximum level. I was using breathing and visualization techniques that are sometimes called “The Mental Game” in athletics and sports.
B: I stressed myself. How? well, maybe thinking of a previous boss, or some bad moment in my life. You see that the “waves” disappear, and narrow erratic patterns appear instead.
C: I quickly go back into “The Zone”, using a breathing and visualization technique that works for me. There are many techniques-the virtue of real time visual feedback is that we can find what works for us. The more we train, the better we get at it.
D: the bottom half is showing the cumulative score, and whether I fall inside “The Zone”. The line goes down in the middle because it reflects my anxiety during phase B.
The biofeedback program I used is emWave‚ PC Stress Relief (there is also a handheld device called emWave PSR). It contains several short “videogames” where you have to learn to relax at will in order to succeed. The graph above shows the monitor option-where you can see your Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability real-time.