During the AT Brain Exercise program, participants learn the importance of a calm body for their quality of life, sleep and to promote focus. Research shows that a relaxed body prepares the brain to pay attention. The great news is that relaxation techniques can be learned and mastered easily. Attention Tutoring teaches relaxation techniques such as calm breathing and biofeedback.

The relaxation response

During Attention Tutoring lessons, participants practice short relaxation either through relaxation breathing techniques or biofeedback. Both of these methods successfully slow down breathing within a couple of minutes. This leads to a well-researched physiological reaction called the “relaxation response”, where the sympathetic nervous system activity decreases and the parasympathetic activity increases, leading to a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. The body becomes calmer, more comfortable, and ready to focus.

At each lesson, tutors work with participants using biofeedback. The biofeedback apparatus measures heart rate and displays it on a screen. Without being aware, there is a physiological, or natural, heart rate increase when breathing in and a decrease when breathing out. The biofeedback device tracks the difference in heart rate between breathing in and breathing out. This is also called heart rate variability (HRV), which is depicted on the screen by a curve. Essentially, the curve shows the students respirations, and prompts them to deepen and slow respirations. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system activity slows down, and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in. This makes you feel relaxed.

Participants find that being comfortable is an immediate relief and also gives a sense of control. The goal at Attention Tutoring is to teach skills and increase awareness in participants. We encourage practice of learned skills throughout the day during challenging tasks, or times at home, at work, or when volunteering.

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