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The Effects of Progressive Relaxation and Music on Attention, Relaxation and Stress Responses: An Investigation of the Cognitive-Behavioral Model of Relaxation

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Stress management interventions have been shown to be effective adjuncts for the management of medical disorders, and for the prevention and management of occupational stress. Despite their usefulness, it is not completely understood how behavioral stress management techniques exert their effects. Benson 1975 proposed that all relaxation techniques elicit ageneral relaxation response. Davidson and Schwartz 1976 suggested that stress management techniques have specific effects. A compromise position suggests that the specific effects of relaxation techniques are super imposed upon a general relaxation response Lehrer and Woolfolk, 1993. The cognitive behavioral model of relaxation suggests that relaxation is achieved through hierarchical cognitive and behavioral factors Smith, 1988, but has not been adequately evaluated experimentally Lehrer and Woolfolk, 1993. The present experiment examined relaxation within a framework of the cognitive-behavioral model. Sixty-seven normal volunteers were exposed to a stress manipulation and then to one of two relaxation Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Music or control conditions Attention Control, Silence. Measurements of attention, relaxation, and stress responses were obtained during each phase of the experiment. All four groups exhibited similar performance on behavioral measures of attention that suggested a reduction in physiological arousal following their relaxation or control condition, as well as decreased heart rate. Progressive Relaxation resulted in the greatest effects on behavioral and self-report measures of relaxation. The Music condition resultedin the lowest biological measures of stress I.e., heart rate and cortisol responses.

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