Can't stress this enough: can biofeedback increase the use of stress interventions?
biofeedback, deep breathing, cognitive reappraisal, stress coping, heart rate
Undergraduate students experience many stressors throughout their education. An abundance of stress coping methods exists to help students cope; however, many require a significant time investment (e.g., exercise, meditation). Some quick stress coping methods (e.g., deep breathing, cognitive reappraisal) are effective for coping with in-the-moment stressful situations, but students rarely use these coping methods. It is unclear whether this lack of use is due to lack of knowledge, lack of belief that the strategy is useful, or other factors. Our study examined the first two ideas by introducing deep breathing and cognitive reappraisal to the participants with and without biofeedback. We compared the effectiveness of a physiological technique (deep breathing) to a cognitive technique (cognitive reappraisal). Contrary to our hypotheses, coping strategy and biofeedback did not increase the use of either coping strategy throughout the semester; however, participants across all groups reported using deep breathing and cognitive reappraisal more in Part 2 than Part 1. Aligning with our hypothesis, deep breathing, and cognitive reappraisal as a stress coping strategies lead to similar changes in our biofeedback measure and seem to lead to better mental control over the participant’s stress reaction.
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