Daily Relaxation Response Breaks in a Working Population I. Effects on Self-reported Measures of Health, Performance, and Well-being

Authors
Ruanne K. Peters, Herbert Benson, Douglas Porter
Publication
Am. J. Public Health
67:946-953
Abstract

An experiment conducted at the corporate offices of a manufacturing firm investigated the effects of daily relaxation breaks on five self-reported measures of health, performance, and well-being. For 12 weeks, 126 volunteers filled out daily records and reported bi-weekly for additional measurements. After four weeks of baseline monitoring, they were divided randomly into three groups: Group A was taught a technique for producing the relaxation response; Group B was instructed to sit quiety; Group C received no instructions. Groups A and B were asked to take two 15-minute relaxation breaks daily. After an eight-week experimental period, the greatest mean improvements on every index occurred in Group A; the least improvements occurred in Group C; Group B was intermediate. Differences between the mean changes in Groups A vs C reached statistical significance (p < 0.05) on four of the five indices: Symptoms, Illness Days, Performance, and Sociability-Satisfaction. Improvements on the Happiness-Unhappiness Index were not significantly different among the three groups. The relationship between amount of change and rate of practicing the relaxation response was different for the different indices. While less than three practice periods per week produced little change on any index, two daily sessions appeared to be more practice than was necessary for many individuals to achieve positive changes. Somatic symptoms and performance responded with less practice of the relaxation response than did behavioral symptoms and measures of well-being.

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