Massage Research

Today I Feel Blessed

Its only three weeks into January, and its such an amazing year already!

I’ve had lovely opportunities to help my regular customers manage stress and I’ve been blessed with wonderful new customers!   It’s such an improvement from 12 months ago and I can’t help but feel happy and thankful for my old and new customers.

I’ve also had an opportunity to connect with business people through networking events and I’ll be meeting more people at events in the coming week.   In times of recession, its uplifting to meet other business owners who are full of positivity and intent on doing the best for each other and for their communities.

This year I can see the focus of my life will be relationships – understanding and developing relationships with other people – friends, customers, business people and members of my community.   This year, I’ve begun to meet many like-minded positive people, and I’m looking forward to the trend continuing for the rest of the year!

I’ve also started a Diploma in Adult Psychology.   Psychology fasinates me as its a study of  behaviour, thoughts and feelings.   I know that studying psychology will help me develop personally and it will help me develop friendships this year.

Feeling blessed is about finding the little things to be grateful for.   Here are some tips to help you feel blessed:

1. Find one thing to be grateful for each day – this could be the water in the tap, the electricity when you turn on the light, or food on your table.

2. Be thankful for all the things you have had, for the things you have now, and for the things you will have.

3. How do you feel when people thank you for doing something?   Does it lift your spirits, and help you feel appreciated?   Share this feeling with other people – give thanks when someone does something for you.

4. Be thankful for bad experiences – they contain a lesson that needed to be learned.  Sometimes, we just have to learn the hard way!

5. Decide you want to a grateful person.   Give yourself permission to feel blessed.  You’ll find your spirits are raised, and that life is much more positive than you realise.

Do you practice gratitude in your life?
How do you practice gratitude?
How does it make you feel?

Massage Research

Massage Decreases Depression and Anxiety in Breast-Cancer Patients

Breast-cancer patients who received two 30-minute sessions of massage therapy per week for five weeks showed significant reductions in depression and anxious depression, according to a recent study.

The research, “Depression, mood, stress and Th1/Th2 immune balance in primary breast cancer patients undergoing classical massage therapy,” involved 34 breast-cancer patients. Inclusion criteria were tumor size of less than or equal to T2, nodal state of less than or equal to N2 and disease onset less than or equal to four years ago. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation had to be completed at least three months prior to the start of the study.

Exclusion criteria were distant metastases, lymphedema of arms or breasts, inflamed skin in the area of massage therapy, psychiatric diseases and treatment with anticoagulants, cytostatics, corticosteroids, antidepressants or opioids.

Subjects in the study were randomly assigned to either the massage group or a control group. Those in the control group continued receiving standard medical care. Those in the massage group received two 30-minute massages per week for five weeks.

Evaluations were the same for all subjects in the study, and they occurred at the same three points in time. The first assessment took place at baseline, before any intervention began. The second assessment took place at the end of the five-week intervention period. The third and final assessment took place six weeks after the end of the intervention.

The methods of evaluation were the Patient Health Questionnaire, the Berlin Mood Questionnaire, the Perceived Stress Questionnaire and a blood sample. The blood withdrawal took place at the same time of day for all patients.

Researchers aimed to measure how massage therapy would affect depression, anxiety, stress and mood, as well as the Th1/Th2 ratio in breast-cancer patients. According to the researchers, Th1/Th2 ratios reflect immune balance and represent immunity against tumors and infections.

One massage therapist administered the massage-therapy sessions for all subjects in this study. The massage protocol consisted of stroking, kneading and friction to the sternocleidomastoid muscles, trapezius muscles, rhomboid muscles, small neck muscles, supraspinatus muscles, teres major muscles, levator scapulae muscles, autochthonal back muscles, latissimus dorsi muscles and pectoral muscles.

Results of the research revealed a significant reduction in both depression and anxious depression among subjects in the massage group at the end of the five-week period. Stress and mood did not show any significant changes, and the Th1/Th2 ratio registered a slight improvement in the massage group.

“In summary, classical massage therapy has been shown to significantly reduce depression in breast-cancer patients,” state the study’s authors. “Therefore, an integration of classical massage into treatment and aftercare of primary cancer patients, particularly breast-cancer patients, appears very recommendable according to the presented results.”

Authors: Michaela Krohn, Miriam Listing, Gracia Tjahjono, Anett Reisshauer, Eva Peters, Burghard F. Klapp and Martina Rauchfuss.

Sources: Department of Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, and Institute of Radiology, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany. Originally published in Support Care Cancer (July 2010).

Massage Research

Chair Massage Decreases Anxiety During Drug Withdrawal

Recent research shows both state and trait anxiety levels are reduced significantly when adults undergoing withdrawal from psychoactive drugs receive a 20-minute chair massage.

The study, “Chair Massage for Treating Anxiety Patients Withdrawing from Psychoactive Drugs,” involved 83 patients from a withdrawal-management unit at Addiction Prevention and Treatment Services, Capital District Health Authority, in Nova Scotia, Canada.

In order to participate, subjects had to be at least age 18 or older with no prior experience with massage therapy, no prior history of anxiety or sleep disorders and no contraindications to receiving massage. All of these patients were undergoing withdrawal from alcohol, cocaine or opioids.

The 83 participants were randomly assigned to either the massage-therapy intervention group or the relaxation control group. Those in the massage-therapy group received a 20-minute chair massage on three consecutive days, between the hours of 6 and 7:30 p.m. Those in the relaxation control group experienced a 20-minute relaxation session on three consecutive days, between the hours of 6 and 7:30 p.m.

The main outcome measure for this study was anxiety. Researchers used the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory to assess the anxiety of the study’s subjects. A baseline evaluation occurred as soon the subjects were recruited for the research. The same evaluation then occurred before and after each of the three massage or relaxation sessions.

During the massage session, participants were clothed and seated on an Avilla II massage chair. The lights were dimmed and soft, while soothing music was played to enhance relaxation. Five female massage therapists provided the massage therapy, and participants received their massages from the same massage therapist each of the three times.

The massage protocol consisted of conventional, light-pressure Swedish massage techniques, “continuous systematic strokes including kneading and stretching to loosen and rehabilitate soft tissues of the body and to provide general relaxation,” according to the authors of this study. Manual techniques, including effleurage, petrissage, repetitive stroking, rocking, squeezing and mild joint mobilization also were employed.

The relaxation control sessions took place in the same room, with the same dimmed lights and soothing music that were used in the massage sessions. Each participant was asked to find a comfortable position in a chair and clear his or her mind of stressful thoughts, focusing only on breathing.

Results of the study revealed a significant drop in both state and trait anxiety levels among participants in the massage-therapy group and the relaxation control group, following each of the 20-minute sessions.

However, the reduction in mean state and trait anxiety for the massage-therapy group was significantly greater than that of the relaxation control group. In addition, the study showed that the decrease in state anxiety among subjects in the massage-therapy group was sustained, at least in part, for 24 hours. There was no significant, sustained decrease in anxiety among subjects in the relaxation control group.

“Our results clearly demonstrated that chair massage was superior to relaxation control treatment in reducing anxiety during withdrawal, that the effects were immediate, and in the case of state anxiety the reduction was sustained, at least in part, for 24 hours,” state the study’s authors.

“By improving the experience of the withdrawal process and providing patients a wider range of approaches to manage the way that they feel,” the study’s authors concluded, “chair massage may help retain patients within service areas and improve overall wellness.”

Authors: Shaun Black, Kathleen Jacques, Adam Webber, Kathy Spurr, Eileen Carey, Andrea Hebb and Robert Gilbert.

Sources: Addiction Prevention and Treatment Services, Capital District Health Authority, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada; Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Addiction Services, Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and Protection, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Originally published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2010) 16 (9): 979-987.

Meditation Research

Mindful Multitasking: Meditation First Can Calm Stress, Aid Concentration

Mindful Multitasking: Meditation First Can Calm Stress, Aid Concentration

Need to do some serious multitasking? Some training in meditation beforehand could make the work smoother and less stressful, new research from the University of Washington shows.

Work by UW Information School professors David Levy and Jacob Wobbrock suggests meditation training can help people working with information stay on tasks longer with fewer distractions and also improves memory and reduces stress.

Their paper was published in the May edition of Proceedings of Graphics Interface.

Levy, a computer scientist, and Wobbrock, a researcher in human-computer interaction, conducted the study together with Information School doctoral candidate Marilyn Ostergren and Alfred Kaszniak, a neuropsychologist at the University of Arizona.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore how meditation might affect multitasking in a realistic work setting,” Levy said.

The researchers recruited three groups of 12 to 15 human resource managers for the study. One group received eight weeks of mindfulness-based meditation training; another received eight weeks of body relaxation training. Members of the third, a control group, received no training at first, then after eight weeks were given the same training as the first group.

Before and after each eight-week period, the participants were given a stressful test of their multitasking abilities, requiring them to use e-mail, calendars, instant-messaging, telephone and word-processing tools to perform common office tasks. Researchers measured the participants’ speed, accuracy and the extent to which they switched tasks. The participants’ self-reported levels of stress and memory while performing the tasks were also noted.

The results were significant: The meditation group reported lower levels of stress during the multitasking test while those in the control group or who received only relaxation training did not. When the control group was given meditation training, however, its members reported lower stress during the test just as had the original meditation group.

The meditation training seemed to help participants concentrate longer without their attention being diverted. Those who meditated beforehand spent more time on tasks and switched tasks less often, but took no longer to complete the overall job than the others, the researchers learned.

No such change occurred with those who took body relaxation training only or with the control group. After the control group’s members underwent meditation training, however, they too spent longer on their tasks with less task switching and no overall increase in job completion time.

After training, both the meditators and those trained in relaxation techniques showed improved memory for the tasks they were performing. The control group did not, until it too underwent the meditation training.

“Many research efforts at the human-technology boundary have attempted to create technologies that augment human abilities,” Wobbrock said. “This meditation work is unusual in that it attempts to augment human abilities not through technology but because of technology—because of the demands technology places on us and our need to cope with those demands.”

Levy added, “We are encouraged by these first results. While there is increasing scientific evidence that certain forms of meditation increase concentration and reduce emotional volatility and stress, until now there has been little direct evidence that meditation may impart such benefits for those in stressful, information-intensive environments.”

Meditation Research

Meditation Practice May Decrease Risk for Cardiovascular Disease in Teens

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Regular meditation could decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in teens who are most at risk, according to Georgia Health Sciences University researchers.

In a study of 62 black teens with high blood pressure, those who meditated twice a day for 15 minutes had lower left ventricular mass, an indicator of future cardiovascular disease, than a control group, said Dr. Vernon Barnes, a physiologist in the Medical College of Georgia and the Georgia Health Sciences University Institute of Public and Preventive Health.

Barnes, Dr. Gaston Kapuku, a cardiovascular researcher in the institute, and Dr. Frank Treiber, a psychologist and former GHSU Vice President for Research, co-authored the study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Half of the group was trained in transcendental meditation and asked to meditate for 15 minutes with a class and 15 minutes at home for a four-month period. The other half was exposed to health education on how to lower blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease, but no meditation. Left ventricular mass was measured with two-dimensional echocardiograms before and after the study and the group that meditated showed a significant decrease.

“Increased mass of the heart muscle’s left ventricle is caused by the extra workload on the heart with higher blood pressure,” Barnes explained. “Some of these teens already had higher measures of left ventricular mass because of their elevated blood pressure, which they are likely to maintain into adulthood.”

During meditation, which Barnes likens to a period of deep rest, the activity of the sympathetic nervous system decreases and the body releases fewer-than-normal stress hormones. “As a result, the vasculature relaxes, blood pressure drops and the heart works less,” he said.

School records also showed behavioral improvements.

“Transcendental meditation results in a rest for the body that is often deeper than sleep,” Barnes said. “Statistics indicate that one in every 10 black youths have high blood pressure. If practiced over time, the meditation may reduce the risk of these teens developing cardiovascular disease, in addition to other added health benefits.”

Reiki Research

Real and Placebo Reiki Boost Comfort in Patients Receiving Chemotherapy

Measures of comfort and well-being among patients receiving chemotherapy improved significantly following a 20-minute reiki intervention, and also after a 20-minute intervention with a sham reiki placebo, according to recent research.

The study, “Investigation of Standard Care Versus Sham Reiki Placebo Versus Actual Reiki Therapy to Enhance Comfort and Well-Being in a Chemotherapy Infusion Center,” involved 189 people ages 18 and older receiving chemotherapy in a northern California infusion center.

These subjects were randomly assigned to receive either standard care, sham reiki placebo or actual reiki therapy for 20 minutes during one of their chemotherapy infusion appointments. These appointments typically involve the patient sitting quietly in a comfortable chair and receiving IV medications for three to five hours, often while reading, listening to music or watching TV.

Those subjects assigned to receive standard care went about their chemotherapy appointment as described above. As for the patients in the sham reiki placebo group, an oncology nurse pretended to perform a Reiki session for 20 minutes, moving her hands on the patient’s body in a specific order.

According to the researchers, “The sham reiki therapist was chosen in part because of her disbelief in biofield energy transfer. In an effort to prevent any possible healing energy coming from the sham therapist, [she] was asked to do math problems or create a shopping list in her head.”

Participants assigned to the study’s actual reiki therapy group received 20 minutes of reiki, provided by an oncology nurse who is also a certified reiki master. During these reiki sessions, the nurse addressed seven main chakras, all major organs and six major energy centers—crown, brow, throat, heart, solar plexus and sacrum—starting at the patient’s head and moving down.

“The reiki therapist managed the energy to treat ‘dis-ease’ and improve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being,” state the study’s authors.

The Healing Touch Comfort Questionnaire and the Well-Being Analog Scale were the two tools employed to assess outcome measures for this study. These surveys were completed by subjects in each group before and after the chemotherapy infusion appointment in which they received either standard care, sham reiki placebo or actual reiki therapy.

Results of the research revealed that both actual reiki therapy and sham reiki placebo resulted in statistically significant improvements in the level of comfort and well-being among patients receiving chemotherapy.

“Some may say that healing went through the sham provider regardless, and that all nurses perform healing in their touch,” state the study’s authors. “Therefore, the investigators in this study postulate that the intervention that improved patient comfort and well-being may have been the attentive presence of a designated nurse at the bedside.

“More specifically, the investigators are focused on the one-on-one nursing presence, rather than human presence alone,” they continue, “because all three groups had the presence of family members at the bedside, and all groups had equal access to the regular chemotherapy unit nurses.”

Authors: Anita Catlin and Rebecca L. Taylor-Ford.

Sources: School of Nursing, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California; and Kaiser Santa Rosa Hospital, Santa Rosa, California. Originally published in Oncology Nursing Forum (2011), 38(3), 212-220.