The mental health of college students is at an all time high with depression and anxiety rates skyrocketing; however, college counseling services lack abundant resources in remedial and preventative care for students as they manage the stressors of college life. This study seeks to understand the impact of biofeedback training in the form of heart rate variability (HRV) and self-compassion training on Connecticut College students’ well-being. In addition, this study hopes to unpack the nature of emotion regulation and whether emotion regulation can be strengthened as well as better understood through these two trainings. Participants recruited were divided into four groups–a control group (G1), an HRV biofeedback training group (G2), a self-compassion training group (G3), and a combination of both trainings (G4). In order to gauge changes in well-being, six psychological questionnaires and HRV measurements were collected prior to a six-week training period and immediately after. While results were not significant, G4 experienced the largest improvement from baseline to post-intervention for heart coherence, mindfulness, self-compassion, expressive suppression, and perceived stress: G4 stood out as the group with the greatest improvement across measures, which suggests that integrating both trainings benefitted participants more than practicing only one. Combining HRV biofeedback and self-compassion training improved emotion regulation, which suggests that cognitive rewiring as well as autonomic agency may be integral in preventing emotion dysregulation; however, results convey a disconnect between autonomic, neurovisceral activity and integrative emotional processing with the central nervous system. More studies on emotion regulation treatments will help in bridging this gap in emotion regulation.
Barr, Sophie, "Investigating the Impact of Biofeedback and Self-Compassion Training on Emotion Regulation and Stress of College Students" (2023). Behavioral Neuroscience Honors Papers. 16.
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