Log on. Chill out. New research has found the use of Internet-based stress management programs can effectively reduce stress for a sustainable period.
The study, reported by Cleveland Clinic researchers in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, showed online stress-relief programs provide benefits that are comparable to traditional, face-to-face management techniques, at a fraction of the cost.
"Our recent findings provide individuals and employers with a new option to consider for themselves or their employees' stress management," said Michael Roizen, M.D., chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic. "Unmanaged stress causes some of the highest healthcare costs for employers and has a lasting impact on everyone; this study implies such health effect may be readily reduced."
For the study, Mayo researchers tracked 300 people who completed an eight-week Web-based stress-management program that offered online relaxation practice materials, strategies to help cope with life's stressors, stress assessments at the beginning and end of the program, and daily topics to inspire participants to continue the meditation and relaxation techniques.
When compared with a second group of individuals who underwent a tradition stress-relief program, the Web-based group showed a significant decrease in perceived stress from high levels to average, as well as greatly improved emotional wellbeing. The results also showed those who meditated more often had the greatest levels of stress reduction.
Chronic stress is linked with increased health risks and a variety of chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. A national survey from the American Psychological Association showed that 75 percent of American adults report high levels of stress, with little accessibility to a stress management program.
Face-to-face stress management programs often include massage therapy, exercise, diet modification, acupuncture, and meditation. Web-based programs focuses heavily on achieving a state of mindfulness through relaxation and meditation, and guided imagery.
"Understanding consumer behavior related to health and healthcare is critical to advancing care delivery," said Mitch Higashi, chief economist for GE Healthcare. "In this case, demonstrating how workplace stress management programs could be delivered effectively in online formats provides important insights for future innovation."
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