Do mind-body techniques really help? Over the past 35 years, studies on relaxation techniques have given us answers that are based on how our bodies work and how our thoughts and emotions affect our health.
Since the 1960s, research on the benefits of stress reduction through mind-body techniques has helped make this approach a part of mainstream medicine. You can find programs based on these principles throughout the U.S. in hospitals and in outpatient settings. These programs help patients manage pain, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, heal after surgery, quit smoking and lose weight.
Studies assess the benefits of stress management practices in various ways. Some studies look at patients' own descriptions of their surgical experience after using these practices. Other studies measure specific results such as the amount of pain medication used, complications of surgery and the number of days in the hospital after surgery.Here are some highlights from the research:
- Three major reviews of mind-body practices before surgery consistently show better psychological and medical outcomes after surgery. (Dreher H, 1998)
- In a systematic review of 27 studies on relaxation training, results show a significant positive effect on anxiety. (Manzoni, 2008)
- A review of the effects of guided imagery on the immune system suggests it can reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. (Trakhtenberg, 2008).
Many studies have repeatedly shown that mind-body practices before medical procedures or surgery have a wide range of specific benefits including:
- Less anxiety and distress
- Less post-operative pain and discomfort
- Reduced need for pain medication
- Improved immune response
- Less blood loss after surgery
- Faster wound healing
- Better sleep quality - so you get to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer
- More confidence in your ability to handle stress
- Fewer post-surgery complications
- Shortened hospital stays
To view a list of research articles on this topic click here.