stress

Is Relaxation Training Hocus-Pocus?

I am frequently asked about the evidence for relaxation training. The concept of relaxation training has been around for many years and much research is available in the scientific and medical literature to support and recommend its use, not only for insomnia, anxiety, stress and depression but also for chronic painful conditions.

According to Wikipedia:

relaxation technique (also known as relaxation training) is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of anxietystress or anger. Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, among other health benefits.[1]

Read the whole article here:

Read the article from Helpguide, a non-profit resource:

See what people at the Mayo Clinic have to say about relaxation techniques:

Watch the Mayo Clinic video: Mayo Clinic Video on Yoga for Relaxation

Peer reviewed medical and scientific literature is cited here for those who are skeptical and think of relaxation training as hocus-pocus:

J Psychiatr Pract. 2008 Nov;14(6):403-7.

Sleeping without a pill: nonpharmacologic treatments for insomnia.

Source

UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine/Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA. lkierlin@mednet.ucla.edu

Abstract

Insomnia is a complaint of patients seen in many medical settings, but it is particularly prevalent in patients who present to mental health practitioners. When choosing an intervention for insomnia, physicians often turn to pharmacological management options as their primary strategy, with other modalities only considered secondarily, if at all. Medications for insomnia, which include benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, and antihistamines, have been found to have both varying degrees of efficacy as well as side-effect profiles that may limit their use. In recent years, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has studied nonpharmacologic interventions for insomnia and found evidence to support their use in achieving sustained improvements in sleep parameters over time. Methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, stimulus-control therapy, relaxation, paradoxical intention, and sleep restriction are efficacious treatments that mental health practitioners can consider in the treatment of insomnia. Researchers are only beginning to review evidence concerning complementary and alternative medicine therapies (CAM); however, given the preponderance of patients who may be employing these techniques for insomnia, it is important that clinicians be familiar with these approaches, which merit further study. This article reviews nonpharmacologic treatments for insomnia that are available to mental health practitioners as well as primary care providers, either via direct application of the techniques or by referral. The evidence for each of these modalities is presented in an effort to expand the treating physician's armamentarium beyond sole use of the medications traditionally used to treat insomnia.

J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Nov;46(11):1456-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.08.007. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

Comparison of relaxation training with a cognitive-behavioural intervention for indicated prevention of depression in university students: A randomized controlled trial.

Source

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Santiago de Compostela, Campus Vida, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Electronic address: fernandolino.vazquez@usc.es.

Abstract

Although cognitive-behavioural programmes for preventing depression have produced promising findings, their administration requires extensive training. Relaxation techniques are more straightforward psychological strategies, but they have not been investigated in the prevention of depression. This trial aimed to compare the results of relaxation training (RT) with that of a cognitive-behavioural programme (CBT) for prevention of depression in university students with elevated depressive symptoms. The 133 participants (mean age 23.3 years, 82% women) were randomly assigned to CBT or RT. Both programmes were administered to groups of 5 or 6 participants in eight weekly 90-min sessions. Participants were evaluated by independent raters before, immediately after, and 3 and 6 months after taking part in the programmes. By itself, intervention type had no significant effect on either depression or anxiety scores. The scores were lower at the follow-up time points with respect to pre-intervention scores. Effect size was greatest between pre- and immediately post-intervention scores for CBT, d = 1.32, 95% CI [1.00, 1.64], and between pre- and 6-month post-intervention scores for RT, d = 0.75, 95% CI [0.47, 1.03]. Anxiety symptoms were significantly improved by both interventions at 3-month follow-up, and by CBT at 6-month follow-up also. In the medium term (3-6 months), relaxation training produced similar reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms as a more complex cognitive-behavioural programme.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:

 22939979

[PubMed - in process]

 Am J Health Promot. 2012 Jul-Aug;26(6):e149-58. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.110516-QUAL-199.

Psychological and physiological response of students to different types of stress management programs.

Source

Cátedra de Química Analítica Instrumental, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina. siglesia@ffyb.uba.ar

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To design, implement, and examine the psychoneuroendocrine responses of three different types of stress management programs.

DESIGN:

Randomly assigned. A pre/post experimental design comparing variables between three different programs and a control group. The first program included training in deep breathing, relaxation response, meditation, and guided imagery techniques (RRGI). The second program included training in cognitive behavioral techniques (CB). The third program included both RRGI and CB (RRGICB).

SETTING:

The study was conducted at Buenos Aires University.

SUBJECTS:

Participants (N  = 52) were undergraduate students.

MEASURES:

Anxiety, anger, hopelessness, neuroticism, respiration rate, and salivary cortisol levels were assessed.

ANALYSIS:

Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to investigate differences in pre and post variables.

RESULTS:

Subjects in the RRGI group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .011), anger (p < .012), neuroticism (p < .01), respiratory rate (p < .002), hopelessness (p < .01), and salivary cortisol (p < .002) after the treatment. Subjects in the CB group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .018), anger (p < .037), and neuroticism (p < .03) after the treatment. Subjects in the RRGICB group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .001), anger (p < .001), neuroticism (p < .008), hopelessness (p < .01), respiratory rate (p < .001), and salivary cortisol (p < .002) after the treatment. Subjects in the control group showed only one variable modification, a significant increase in cortisol levels (p < .004).

CONCLUSIONS:

The combination of deep breathing, relaxation response, meditation, and guided imagery techniques with CB seems to be effective at helping people to deal with stress.

PMID:

 22747323

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CADeep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

Bring it on, Life, But Only If I am Rested and Relaxed!

I have had some interesting experiences this summer. It has been a busy, exciting, disturbing, hectic, troubling and inspiring summer. I went skydiving (for the third time) with my wife and son. Exciting. Our son was in a car accident, totaling the long time family vehicle. Scary. Our long time dearly loved family dog of ten years died abruptly. Disturbing. You probably get an idea of the wide variety of these experiences. You may identify with some of them too.

Rather than going into the minor details, my goal is to point out how experiences shape our lives. What life throws our way is not in our control. How hot the weather will be today or how bad the traffic will be on the way home from work are things beyond our individual control.

How we deal with what is thrown our way is critical. It also depends on what frame of mind we are in. Well rested, emotionally secure people will be able to deal with a lot of stressful events and deal with them differently than others. Suffering already from over work and stress, leading to lack of good quality sleep, many of us are left with little emotional capacity to take any more trouble and deal with it adequately.

There are people in this world who have to walk long distances for drinking water and wonder each morning if they will find the one meal for that day. There are people who have been through genocides, massacres, famines, floods, epidemics and all kinds of mass miseries inflicted on them by other people and by nature. Are they all emotionally exhausted, mentally paralyzed, unable to function, survive, move forward and build their lives? May be some, but not all.

On the other hand, there are people with every imaginable luxury of life, who would give anything to be able to take a nap, like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston who gave their lives trying to obtain a few moments of forced, chemically induced rest for their minds.

What is the difference? The difference is in genetics, brain wiring, cultures, environment and upbringing. Given all else being equal, those of us who find themselves unable to feel emotionally secure, able to let go, calm their minds, rest and recharge to face the inflictions of everyday life, need to learn these skills. If it does not come naturally, it has to be learnt. Like a child learns to walk naturally, but has to be taught how to ride a bicycle.

It is the job of those who are in the position of helping others, to assist them in this journey. It is also the job of those who are looking for help, grasping for straws, to seek out this help. It is available. It is here. We do it every day at Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio.

Go, get it, wherever you can. It will make life better, easier and more fun for all.

 

 

On The Subject of The Active Mind Syndrome - Do You Have It Too?

To be very frank there is no such condition identified in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual that mental health providers use, at least not so far. Could it be that the prevalence of this problem is so high it is considered kind of normal to suffer with it?

Society has been hard at work to train our children and adults alike, to work hard, be responsible, worry about the consequences of our actions and be held accountable. Nothing wrong with any of that but there are ramifications to this training that we never see coming.

In going through the process of developing these necessary traits in our personalities, we de-train ourselves from how were were as young children, happy go lucky, taking a day at a time, relaxed and unhurried. Some of us can cope with the change simply because they have been blessed with a calm demeanor implanted genetically into their minds. The rest of us suffer. We worry about getting to places on time, paying bills, caring for loved ones, making money, spending money, socializing, networking, entertaining, being entertained, even sleeping. We take our busy minds to bed with us and rise with these busy multi tasking, active minds. Our minds keep busy problem solving, thinking, recalling what happened and planning ahead for what might happen, even when we are supposed to be resting.

Rest doesn't come easy, sleep doesn't come, and if it comes it is not restful. We keep tossing and turning in bed trying to fall asleep. We wake up within 2-3 hours of falling asleep often staring in the dark, counting sheep, checking text messages and emails, turning the TV on and off and finally giving in to the temptation to take some sort of sleeping pill. Some will keep going to the bathroom or get up and eat. Then comes the dreaded morning and back to the race to finish tasks, be on time, finish the work, on and on and on.

I see these people every day in my sleep medicine practice. Nice, responsible, good people. Suffering people. Distressed people. "Doctor, the more I try to sleep the harder it is to fall asleep. My mind just races and doesn't stop, even when there is nothing stressful happening. What should I do? Can you help me?" And I find myself thinking, here is another patient with the undiagnosed and so far unnamed Active Mind Syndrome.

There are many ways to treat it should you be one of those people who have experienced the ill effects of this condition. Its important to know two facts first though. Firstly, there is no use asking the doctor since most doctors don't know what it is (and likely they have it too) and they wouldn't know how to treat it. Secondly, the answer is not in a pill.

What is your motivation? How strong is it? How bad is your suffering?

We at Sehatu Sleep think we have the answer. We call it Deep Relaxation Training (www.sehatusleep.com). We feel it requires re-training the mind to make the best of both worlds. People can learn to be productive, efficient, high achieving, and at the same time able to let go, relax, and loosen up on demand; able to sleep like a baby. It does require hard work, commitment and consistency but is very do-able. It is very powerful and gives you the capability to deal with life as it happens.

It is certainly not the only answer. Many paths can lead you to the same goal. We think ours is the most comprehensive. If not us, there are many wise people around you wherever you are. It just takes recognizing the problem and then seeking help. Its around the corner. Waiting for you. Wherever you are.

Happy dreams!