Thesis: The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Stress and Relaxation
Psychosocial stress is increasingly being recognised as a public health issue of great concern. Research indicates stress can lead to or exacerbate a number of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Relaxation is anecdotally considered a viable antidote to stress. However, research in this area is lacking in consistency of how 'relaxation' is defined and the outcome variables studied. As a result, relaxation is still often seen as an unsubstantiated 'alternative' health practice.
My research aims to compare both the psychological and physiological effects of stress with those of abbreviated progressive muscular relaxation (APMR) to provide a clearer understanding of the processes taking place in the mind and the body. My first and second study focus on the effect of a 20-minute APMR session on acute stress in the lab setting. My third study is an intervention trial in which I focus on the cumulative effect of weekly worksite-relaxation on life stress.
Why my research is important
A clearer scientific understanding of the stress response in comparison with the relaxation response may provide an avenue by which to deal with stress in a convenient, cost and time efficient manner.