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
- How do STRESS
and Temperature relate ... ?
- Where should I practice ... ?
- Understanding Temperature ... ?
- Temperature Variables ... ?
- Frequently asked questions ... ?
- Temperature Charting and Bibliography
How do STRESS and Temperature relate ... ?
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 your coldest.
- 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
- 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.
Where should I practice ... ?
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
You can gather a friend, spouse, family or
group of people and train together. Share your experiences to
stimulate one another's learning.
Understanding Temperature ... ?
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 stress levels.
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)
Temperature Variables ... ?
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 the skin.
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
Frequently asked questions ... ?
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.
Temperature Charting and Bibliography ... ?
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.
Port Angeles, WA 98362 USA
If you would like to read more go to :
Headaches - describes
headaches and recommends relaxation and biofeedback
Dr Tim Lowenstein
Copyright © Dr Tim Lowenstein