Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
©1995 Timothy J. Lowenstein, Ph.D.
Seek proper medical treatment from professionals.
Training described herein should not be undertaken without advice
from your health professional. Use of the Stress Computer and other
training materials is the sole choice of the reader.
The Stress Computer will let you see to 1/10
of one degree the stress you experience in different situations.
Changes in hand/foot temperature are a reflection of blood flow
- a measure of the stress response. For example, while talking about
an upsetting incident involving your parents, an employer/employee,
or friend your temperature may drop 5_ to 20_. In contrast, when
recalling a minor misunderstanding your temperature may only drop
one degree. And yet, when you recall the warm sun on a recent vacation,
your temperature may increase a full 10_.
What is most surprising is how quickly the
changes occur. People often comment, I never had any idea that little
finger could show so much!
The basic rule for interpreting temperature
change is simple, Warmer hands/feet indicate Relaxation while Colder
hands/feet reflect Activation or Tension. When the body's fight/
flight system is activated the muscles tense, heart rate and the
vital organs speed up. As a result, blood flow is shunted from the
extremities and directed to the vital organs to facilitate the increased
level of arousal. As a result, changes of 5_, 10 or 15_ can occur
within just a few minutes.
The amount of temperature change depends
on the stressor or problem and how you react to stress.
- Relative change. You need to observe your
temperature over a week in different settings to see what your temperature
range is. 72_ may be your wife's coldest temperature while 85_ may
- The long term goal is to consistently raise
your temperature to 95_ F. and above; to hold that temperature throughout
the length of your training session. The Time To Relax relaxation
cassette will teach you to relax and increase hand and foot temperature.
- Develop sensitivity in order to recognize
subtle changes in hand temperature throughout the day without the
aid of the Stress Computer.
- Develop the skill to increase hand temperature
in the midst of stressful situations.
It would be best to train while sitting in
a comfortable chair, unless you want to fall asleep. Sit with your
spine rather straight, with your hands in your lap, then cross your
feet or place them flat on the floor. Remove contacts, loosen clothing,
turn off the phone or take care of anything that might disturb your
rest and relaxed attention.
The following four suggestions can enhance
your learning to relax:
1) Initially, it would be helpful to practice
in a quiet environment, wearing loose clothing and removing contact
lenses or other things that might distract your attention. Especially
if you're a house person, it might be best to practice initially
where and when you won't be disturbed.
2) Time your practice an hour after eating
so as not to interfere with your digestive process.
3) Try to practice at about the same time
each day so your body will look forward to rest and will gradually
learn that resting is a habit.
4) After about the tenth session, try relaxing
in a more realistic, active setting, using the taped exercise or
your memory of a relaxation exercise. Do this test after every 10
sessions to see how well you can rest in the midst of noise and
disturbances. This will help you carry your skills into daily life.
You can gather a friend, spouse, family or
group of people and train together. Share your experiences to stimulate
one another's learning.
Your hand temperature can change from 60_
to 99_ degrees Fahrenheit (15.5_ to 37.2_ Celsius). Keep in mind
this general rule: WARM HANDS INDICATE RELAXATION WHILE COLD HANDS
REFLECT TENSION. Not everyone reacts to stress through dramatically
colder hands and feet. You may also react by tensing muscles like
your forehead, jaw, shoulders, etc. Perhaps your stomach has butterflies
or becomes upset. Each of us reacts to stress in our own special
way. Hand temperature is just one simple and effective way to measure
There is no normal temperature but a range
over which temperature fluctuates and changes.
Below79 _ 79-84_ 84-90_ 90-95_ Above 95_
Highly Slightly Mildly Quietly Deeply
Tense Tense Calm Relaxed Relaxed
Below26_ 26-29_ 29-32_ 32-35_ Above 35_(C)
The first and most obvious is to avoid touching
the thermometer to the cold table top or laying it against a warm
leg. You will measure the combined temperature or the table top
and your finger and it will be inaccurate. Also, holding the thermometer
between the fingers provides an inaccurate reading due to the variance
in both surface temperature between the two fingers and the tension
used to hold the thermometer. It's fine to hold the thermometer
with just your fingers to do a quick check.
Secondly, steroids, tranquilizers, alcohol,
hypertensive medication and other drugs in the body will tend to
elevate extremity temperature.
Third, in the summer, hand temperatures tend
to be warmer because the blood vessels are nearer the surface of
People do not have 98.6_ as their average
core body temperature. We have found that everyone can train to
increase their hand and foot temperature and to maintain a higher
Diet - coffee, soda pop, sugar foods, lack
of eating, eating a big meal before relaxing - can all influence
Expectations and Performance Anxiety - Your
thoughts influence your temperature. If you think, Oh, I just can't
learn to relax. Guess what! You will have a heck of time working
against that thought. Reverse thinking, like cold is better, will
create COLD. Also, if you try too hard to relax you can end up more
WORRY. This is the hardest factor to overcome.
Don't fight worry. Feel the sensation of your breathing. Exhale
worry with each breath.
The goal is to be a Stress Master - to
control your own reactions rather than being controlled by events
What is a normal temperature? 98.6_ ? Most
people think that they should try to have 98.6_ (the body's average
core temperature) as their average temperature throughout the day.
What is a good temperature? The first and
foremost goal is to feel what takes place inside yourself. I like
to see the temperature increase. A good temperature change is 5_
to 10_. The overall goal of an ending temperature is 95_ or higher.
Again how you feel is the MOST important.
How high can I safely warm my hands? You
can cool your hands to the point of getting a headache. You can
heat your hands into the high 90's or even low 100's.
Again there is not one normal temperature
- just a range over which your temperature fluctuates. Check your
temperature regularly to chart your range.
The higher the beginning temperature, the
less room for change. If your initial temperature is in the high
80's or low 90's, the less room there is for increasing temperature.
A listing of research papers documenting
the effectiveness of stress management and temperature biofeedback
devices became too large to maintain. If you would like to source
research and clinical application reports, I suggest these professional
journals [limited list] : Clinical Science Journal, Psychophysiology
Journal, Headache Journal, Biofeedback and Self-Regulation Journal,
The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Proceedings of the Biofeedback
Society of America, Journal of Clinical Psychology, Behavior Therapy
Journal, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, American
Journal of Psychophysiology, British Journal of Psychiatry, etc.
WEB CATALOG http://www.cliving.org
PO BOX 127
Port Angeles, WA 98362
If you would like to read more go to :
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headaches and recommends relaxation and biofeedback