Stress Reduction


Daneil Christensen and Marianne Barabasz?Washington State University ??This investigation tested the effects of dry flotation REST and videos of Unthreatening Natural Environment (UNE) scenes on recovery from general stress and induced stress.

Hypnotizability was considered as a moderator variable. High and low hypnotizable subjects were randomly assigned to one of four groups: 1) REST/UNE (N=8 Highs; 8 Lows), 2) REST only (N=8 Highs; 8 Lows), 3) UNE only (N=8 Highs, 8 Lows) and, 4) No treatment control (N=8 Highs; 8 Lows). A 10 minute videiotape of woodworking accidents was used for standardized stress induction. Participants spent 50 minutes in their assigned conditions. Stress arousal was measured using the Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale (SUDS), the Tension-Anxiety (T-A) subscale of the Profile of Mood States (POMS), skin conductance level (SCL) and peripheral skin temperature (PST).

Physiological findings showed that the two REST groups demonstrated lower arousal (p<.05) as measured by SCL during the recovery period than the UNE Only and No-Treatment control groups. The addition of the UNE videotape in the REST/UNE group did not add additional benefits. The three treatment groups demonstrated lower self-reported anxiety (SUDS ratings) over the course of the experiment than the No-Treatment control group. Hypnotizability was unrelated to stress recovery or imaginitive involvement experiences.

The SCL findings add to the growing body of data demonstrating the efficacy of REST in reducing physiological arousal. This is the first study to use a standardized stress induction stimulus. SCL measures demonstrated that REST is effective in recovery from induced stress and further reduction of stress over time. The expected beneficial effect of exposure to UNE scenes was not supported.