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Concept: Stress management


More than 5 million deaths a year are attributable to tobacco smoking, but attempts to help people either quit or reduce their smoking often fail, perhaps in part because the intention to quit activates brain networks related to craving. We recruited participants interested in general stress reduction and randomly assigned them to meditation training or a relaxation training control. Among smokers, 2 wk of meditation training (5 h in total) produced a significant reduction in smoking of 60%; no reduction was found in the relaxation control. Resting-state brain scans showed increased activity for the meditation group in the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex, brain areas related to self-control. These results suggest that brief meditation training improves self-control capacity and reduces smoking.

Concepts: Brain, Tobacco smoking, Cerebrum, Limbic system, Relaxation technique, Premotor cortex, Chronic stress, Stress management


Abstract Objective: To consider the feasibility of setting up a relaxation group to treat symptoms of post stroke anxiety in an in-patient post-acute setting; and to explore the effectiveness of relaxation training in reducing self-reported tension. Method: A relaxation group protocol was developed in consultation with a multidisciplinary team and a user group. Over a period of 24 months, 55 stroke patients attended group autogenic relaxation training on a rehabilitation ward. Attendance ranged between one and eleven sessions. Self-reported tension was assessed pre and post relaxation training using the Tension Rating Circles (TRCs). Results: The TRCs identified a significant reduction in self-reported tension from pre to post training, irrespective of the number of sessions attended; z = -3.656, p < 0.001, r = -0.67, for those who attended multiple sessions, z = -2.758, p < 0.01, r = -0.6 for those who attended a single session. Discussion: The routine use of relaxation techniques in treating anxiety in patients undergoing post-stroke rehabilitation shows potential. Self-reported tension decreased after attendance at relaxation training. The TRCs proved acceptable to group members, but should be validated against standard anxiety measures. Further exploration of the application of relaxation techniques in clinical practice is desirable. Implications for Rehabilitation Anxiety is prevalent after stroke and likely affects rehabilitation outcomes. Relaxation training is a well proven treatment for anxiety in the non-stroke population. A significant within session reduction in tension, a hallmark symptom of anxiety, was evidenced via group relaxation training delivered in a post-acute, in-patient stroke unit setting. Relaxation training a shows promise as a treatment for anxiety after stroke.

Concepts: Relaxation technique, Stress management, Autogenic training


Chronic stress presents a growing, pervasive burden in healthcare, and mobile smartphone applications (apps) have the potential to deliver evidence-based stress management strategies. This review identified and evaluated stress management apps across domains of (1) evidence-based content; (2) transparency in app development; and (3) functionality of the app interface.

Concepts: Management, Relaxation technique, Stress, Smartphone, Chronic stress, Stress management


BACKGROUND: Chronic stress affects many Americans. Stress management programs may be prohibitively expensive or have limited access. PURPOSE: This study aims to determine feasibility of an 8-week Internet-based stress management program (ISM) based on mindfulness principles in reducing stress in a 12-week, parallel, randomized, controlled trial. METHODS: Participants were randomly allocated to ISM, ISM plus online message board (ISM+), or control groups. Perceived stress, mindfulness, self-transcendence, psychological well-being, vitality, and quality of life were measured at baseline, week 8, and week 12 using standard validated questionnaires. RESULTS: ISM and ISM+ groups demonstrated statistically significant improvements compared with control on all measures except vitality and physical health. CONCLUSIONS: The ISM program effectively and sustainably reduced measures of stress. The magnitude of improvement is comparable to traditional mindfulness programs, although fewer participants were engaged. This feasibility study provides strong support for online stress management programs, which increase access at a fraction of cost of traditional programs.

Concepts: Quality, Management, Stress, Control, Internet forum, Chronic stress, Program management, Stress management


Stress is one of the world’s largest health problems, leading to exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, a weak immune system, or even organ damage. In Germany, stress-induced work absenteeism costs about 20 billion Euros per year. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Central Federal Association of the public Health Insurance Funds in Germany ascribes particular importance to stress prevention and stress management as well as health enhancing measures. Building on current integrative and embodied stress theories, Creative Arts Therapies (CATs) or arts interventions are an innovative way to prevent stress and improve stress management. CATs encompass art, music, dance/movement, and drama therapy as their four major modalities. In order to obtain an overview of CATs and arts interventions' efficacy in the context of stress reduction and management, we conducted a systematic review with a search in the following data bases: Academic Search Complete, ERIC, Medline, Psyndex, PsycINFO and SocINDEX. Studies were included employing the PICOS principle and rated according to their evidence level. We included 37 studies, 73% of which were randomized controlled trials. 81.1% of the included studies reported a significant reduction of stress in the participants due to interventions of one of the four arts modalities.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health insurance, Epidemiology, Randomized controlled trial, Management, Stress, Stress management


High complication rates following colorectal surgery render many patients unable to fully regain functional capacity, thus seriously compromising quality of life. The aim of this study was to assess whether a 4-week trimodal prehabilitation program (exercise, nutritional supplementation, and counseling on relaxation techniques), implemented during the preoperative period, is sufficient to modify exercise behaviors and improve functional capacity of elderly patients scheduled for colorectal cancer surgery.

Concepts: Cancer, Life, Obesity, Colorectal cancer, Weight loss, Relaxation technique, Stress management


We investigated common and dissociable neural and psychological correlates of two widely used meditation-based stress-reduction programs.

Concepts: Relaxation technique, Chronic stress, Stress management


The aim of this randomised controlled trial (RCT) was to evaluate the efficacy of a guided internet-based stress management intervention (iSMI) among distressed managers compared with a attention control group (AC) with full access to treatment-as-usual.

Concepts: Scientific control, Randomized controlled trial, Management, Control, Stress management, Time management, Micromanagement


Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation, are aspects common to most forms of mindfulness training. There is now an abundance of research demonstrating that mindfulness training has beneficial effects across a wide range of clinical conditions, making it an important tool for clinical intervention. One area of extensive research is on the beneficial effects of mindfulness on experiences of pain. However, the mechanisms of these effects are still not well understood. One hypothesis is that the relaxation components of mindfulness training, through alterations in breathing and muscle tension, leads to changes in parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system functioning which influences pain circuits. The current study seeks to examine how two of the relaxation subcomponents of mindfulness training, deep breathing and muscle relaxation, influence experiences of pain in healthy individuals. Participants were randomized to either a 10 minute deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or control condition after which they were exposed to a cold pain task. Throughout the experiment, measures of parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system activity were collected to assess how deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation alter physiological responses, and if these changes moderate any effects of these interventions on responses to pain. There were no differences in participants' pain tolerances or self-reported pain ratings during the cold pain task or in participants' physiological responses to the task. Additionally, individual differences in physiological functioning were not related to differences in pain tolerance or pain ratings. Overall this study suggests that the mechanisms through which mindfulness exerts its effects on pain are more complex than merely through physiological changes brought about by altering breathing or muscle tension. This indicates a need for more research examining the specific subcomponents of mindfulness, and how these subcomponents might be acting, to better understand their utility as a clinical treatment.

Concepts: Nervous system, Acetylcholine, Autonomic nervous system, Relaxation technique, Sympathetic nervous system, Paralysis, Parasympathetic nervous system, Stress management


Chronic stress has been shown to be associated with disease. This link is not only direct but also indirect through harmful health behavior such as smoking or changing eating habits. The recent mHealth trend offers a new and promising approach to support the adoption and maintenance of appropriate stress management techniques. However, only few studies have dealt with the inclusion of evidence-based content within stress management apps for mobile phones.

Concepts: Medicine, Medical terms, Change, Stress, Mobile phone, Mobile phones, Chronic stress, Stress management