No. This isn’t about a college fraternity.
They are brain waves you can train to help you remain calm during times of stress.
Right now, we are experiencing an unprecedented situation in the world. A global pandemic has changed everyday life from one of routine to something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Generally, uncertainty is responsible for driving our stress and anxiety. In a time like this where coronavirus (COVID-19), record breaking job loss and unemployment, scarce resources, and the unknown are driving anxiety around the world. How do we mute the noise coming from every direction in order to effectively cope with these changes?
Being able to remain calm is a skill. A skill that can not only help you manage your emotions, but also help you create and execute an effective plan for your next steps. Some things are out of your control, but being able to recognize what you can control can give you power over the situation. And at this time, one of the things you can control is how you perceive and react to what is happening around you.
What are Alpha and Theta brainwaves?
Brain waves measure the electrochemical activity in the brain. The human brain will cycle through four specific brain wave states many times during the course of a day. Beta waves are most prominent when we are most alert and active – usually, when we are engaged in a task. Next, Alpha waves take over when we are done with a task and have a seat or begin a meditation. We are no longer aroused or engaging in a high energy activity (physically or mentally) in this state. Then, there are Theta waves. These waves dominate when we lose sense of time, such as during daydreaming or driving a familiar road. Some people refer to this as “zoning out.” Lastly, Delta waves are prevalent in deep sleep. Our minds are at rest and we may be oblivious to what is occurring around us. During the process of falling asleep, we cycle through the four states rather quickly: from high engagement of our mental processes, to a slowing of our minds, to drifting off, and finally into deep sleep.
Alpha and Theta states represent the mind slowing and being open. This means that in these states, we are receptive to the thoughts that may come (as in daydreaming) or go (as in “zoning out”). In these states, worry is less likely to monopolize your thoughts and you may even come up with creative solutions and ideas.
Research has shown that with specific Neurofeedback training, you can intentionally induce the Alpha and Theta states.
Doing so during times of high arousal, such as when anxious or overwhelmed, you can decrease your response to the stimulating situation – keeping you cool, calm, and collected enough to create a plan or be more willing to go with the flow. In the end, you will react differently to the stressor, providing you with a new outcome of the situation.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an intense worry of fear about a situation. While experiencing some anxiety is completely normal, for those with anxiety disorders, anxiety can be an intense, overwhelming experience that disrupts a person’s functioning for significant periods of time. Anxiety may show up as nervousness, concern, avoidance, or even panic.
During this current COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety may be considered a shared experience among the population. Worry about finances, health, family, structure, the economy, and everything in between will heighten our sensitivity to certain stressors. People are nervous about the future and how it may look, given the state of the world. This is what many are referring to our “new normal.”
What if the repetitive thoughts, the wholly negative perceptions, and the distracting physical sensations or anxiety could melt away? How would you feel if you could clear your mind and think a little clearer? Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback Training can assist you as you try to find a sense of calm during and after this chaotic time.
What is Alpha-Theta Training?
Alpha-Theta Training is a specific neurofeedback protocol that aims to achieve balance and maintain the ideal amplification and frequency of these brainwaves. In doing so effectively, the client is guided into a deep, meditative, hypnotic-like state. This is a hypnagogic, or twilight state. It is what we naturally experience right before falling into deeper stages of sleep. Here, the client is able to process their anxieties and work through them. This allows for desensitization of the stimulus. In other words, Alpha-Theta Training helps you figure out ways to reduce, or possibly eliminate, heightened reactions to certain stressors or triggers.
Alpha-Theta Training takes place across 15 to 30 sessions. Sessions are about 30 minutes long and occur several times per week. During the sessions, you will meet with your trained clinician who will work with you for 5-10 minutes to focus on guided visualizations to simply relax and clear your mind. Small electrodes will be placed onto your scalp and ears. They do not emit any energy and are not painful. They will record your brainwaves to monitor your progression into the Theta state.
As you continue thinking about the image, you will sit, comfortably, with your eyes closed during the session. Gentle breathing exercises may be utilized to help keep your body calm. You will hear soothing sounds that will gradually usher you into Theta.
When you begin the training session with your eyes closed, your brain may be in a high Alpha state. As you continue to “sink into” your relaxation, Alpha waves will begin to decrease and Theta waves will increase. Once the Theta waves exceed the Alpha waves, you will be in what is known as the “crossover” state. You may remain here for the duration of the session. This crossover into the Theta dominant state is the goal of Alpha-Theta Training.
While you are in this twilight state, you will be encouraged to “change the script” when it comes to your thoughts and behaviors.
A question like, “what would you like to do differently in the triggering situation?” can help you work through the anxiety provoking situation and create a different narrative in your subconscious mind. After you practice this new narrative in your Alpha-Theta Training several times, the simulated image is more likely to become your actual response to the stressor. Ideally, while in Alpha-Theta training, you will remove the negative connotations and hyperreactivity associated with the stressor and create new, effective ways to cope.
Benefits of Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback is a safe and clinically proven modality to help with a variety of mental, emotional, cognitive, and intellectual issues without the use of medications. Neurofeedback is also a non-invasive therapy to train the brain to respond to stimuli in more helpful and effective manners. It can be used to improve performance, as an augment to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), enhance memory, increase executive functioning, help manage ADHD, and significantly treat anxiety. By addressing the disruptive behavioral pattern at the neurological level, Neurofeedback Training provides clients with a viable skillset to help them cope with stressors and triggers long after Neurofeedback training has taken place.
Neurofeedback is effective for clients as young as 2 years of age to those well into later adulthood. To be an appropriate candidate for Neurofeedback, the client must be able to sit relatively still and tolerate having the electrodes placed against the skin for the duration of the session.
Your Alpha-Theta Treatment Consultation with Neurozone
Neurozone offers a complimentary consultation by a highly experienced provider. This meeting is your opportunity to share your concerns and have your questions about Neurofeedback answered. The provider working with you will inquire about what you have been experiencing and provide you with informative information about the Alpha-Theta Training protocol. From there, your first session may be scheduled.
Are you ready to learn more about Neurofeedback and Alpha-Theta Training at NeuroZone? Contact us today to schedule your informative consultation!
The results of Alpha-Theta Training are long-lasting and life-changing! The ultimate goal of Alpha-Theta treatment is to help reduce the client’s sensitivity to certain stimuli by training the brain to respond in more effective ways when the stimuli is presented. This direct targeting of the subconscious mind helps to make the new, desired response happen more naturally.
If you want a way to help reduce your anxiety during this trying time in your life, reach out to NeuroZone to book your no obligation consultation with our Neurofeedback specialist today.
- Hammond, D. C. (2005). Neurofeedback Treatment of Depression and Anxiety. Journal of Adult Development, 12(2/3), 131-137. DOI: 10.1007/s10804-005-7029-5
- Raymond, J., Varney, C., Parkinson, L. A., & Gruzelier, J. H. (2005). The effects of alpha/theta neurofeedback on personality and mood. Cognitive Brain Research, 23, 287-292. doi:10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.10.023
- Cheon, E., Koo1, B., & Choi, J. (2016). The Efficacy of Neurofeedback in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: An Open Labeled Prospective Study. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 41, 103–110. DOI 10.1007/s10484-015-9315-8