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Deep Breathing, Soft Music Relieve Stress Better Than An Expensive Massage

By Rosemary Black. Published in the Daily News

Link to the original newspaper article.

Next time you're tempted to fork over a hefty fee for a massage, consider taking some deep breaths and listening to some relaxing tunes instead.

Simple techniques like deep breathing are just as effective at easing stress and anxiety as a pricey massage, according to scientists at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

For the study, 68 anxiety-ridden patients were split into groups and given 10 treatments of one of the three therapies - deep breathing, massages or thermotherapy, which involves getting one's arms and legs wrapped in warm towels. All of the treatments were offered in a dimly lit room with soft music in the background, and all the participants were told to breathe deeply.

When they were later asked by the researchers to rate their anxiety levels, all three groups explained that their symptoms had abated by about 40% by the end of the 12-week treatment period. They also reported less depression and less worry. "We were surprised to find that the benefits of massage were no greater than those of the same number of sessions of 'thermotherapy' or listening to relaxing music," Karen Sherman, senior researcher at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle said, according to the Daily Telegraph. "This suggests that the benefits of massage may be due to a generalized relaxation response."

The study findings, published in the journal, Depression and Anxiety, are good news for the cash-strapped. Massage and thermotherapy can cost more than $100 per session, but breathing's free.

"Treatment in a relaxing room is much less expensive than the other treatments like massage or thermotherapy," Sherman said. "So it might be the most cost-effective option for people with generalized anxiety disorder who want to try a relaxation-oriented complimentary medicine therapy."


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