I’ve been a longtime believer in the positive effects of relaxation techniques. I make a conscious effort to do things like turn on relaxing music while I’m cooking, or performing a few sun salutations when I’m feeling anxious. There are various studies out there supporting the benefits of these types of activities. Here is one interesting study out of New Delhi, India involving 34 healthy male students. If you’re not into study methods, just skip down to the bold print!
- Phase 0: Baseline stress markers (see below) taken from each participant
- Phase 1: Participants performed a stressor (10 minutes of playing a computer game). Stress markers taken after each session.
- Phase 2: Participants performed daily meditation (15 minutes). Stress markers taken after one month.
- Phase 3: Participants performed a stressor (10 minutes of playing a computer game) and subsequently performed meditation (15 minutes). Stress markers taken directly after stressor and after meditation.
“Stress Markers” included: measured galvanic skin response (GSR… basically sweating), heart rate, and salivary cortisol (stress hormone), and administered tests for the intelligence and emotional quotients (IQ & EQ), acute and perceived stress (AS & PS), and cognitive functions and flexibility testing
WHAT THEY FOUND:
- Induced stress from the computer game resulted in a significant increase in physiological markers of stress such as GSR and HR (as it should)
- Short term (instant): meditation was associated with a physiological relaxation response including a significant decrease in sweating and an improvement in reaction times
- Long-term (month): meditation brought significant improvements in scores for IQ and cognitive functions. Stress levels for sweating and acute stress decreased
- EQ, salivary cortisol, and HR showed no significant changes.
So, if you needed another reason to take some time out for yourself, here it is. I know there are many other studies looking at the health benefits of various forms of relaxation, and I’ll post some in the future if anyone is interested 🙂 Now, if only the same benefits applied to shopping… Now that I think about it, shopping probably makes me more stressed!
What do you do to relax?
Immediate and long-term effects of meditation on acute stress reactivity, cognitive functions, and intelligence by Singh Y, Sharma R, Talwar A. was originally published in Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;18(6):46-53.