People in the workforce often suffer stress-related illnesses such as anxiety disorders, asthma, cardiovascular disorders, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, high blood pressure and irritable bowel syndrome.
In the USA more than half of the 550 million work days lost each year are stress-related (The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work). In the UK, stress accounts for 6 million workdays lost annually (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). Statistics Canada has calculated the cost of work time lost to stress at $12 billion a year. This loss is in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity, poor customer service and escalating short and long-term disability claims.
Healthcare expenditures are close to 50% greater for stressed workers compared to non-stressed workers (http://www.statcan.ca). Overall, stress in a business contributes to 19% absenteeism costs and 40% turnover costs.
There is clinical evidence that people who are suffering from diseases exacerbated by stress show a significant decrease in their symptoms if they become involved in stress reduction programs (Blumenthal et al, 2002; Schneider et al, 2004; Kirby et al, 2006). As people are trained to relax and listen to their bodies, many of the symptoms of chronic stress, such as high blood pressure, disappear. These physiological improvements are mediated by changes in concentrations of hormones and neuropeptides that affect the immune system.
But what kind of stress reduction techniques should you use? Two techniques that are easy to learn and to administer are Reiki and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback.
People who give Reiki, or who have experienced Reiki sessions, all comment on how relaxed they feel afterwards. Once you have been attuned to Reiki, you can use it to relax at will, in seconds. Not only that, but recent experiments on humans (Mackay et al, 2004) and on rats (Baldwin and Schwartz, 2006) have shown unequivocally that receiving Reiki reduces heart rate and blood pressure, two definite measures of reduced stress levels. A huge advantage of Reiki is that once you have received Reiki attunements Reiki is free for you to use on yourself and on others!
Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback is a new technique for training people to change the variability and dominant rhythms in their heart activity. The heart is a bio-electrical pump beating at an ever changing rate, and this change or variability, is adaptive and is necessary in order to maintain a healthy heart. If you suffer mental or emotional stress, or become depressed, this variability decreases and the heart does not function so well. On the other hand, high HRV is associated with better health and survival from illness.
Recent research has now shown it is possible to increase your own HRV using biofeedback. So, if you are frequently stressed and perhaps suffer from one or more of the stress-related illnesses, you can learn to increase your HRV and be on your way to a healthier mind and body. Initial case reports have shown success with HRV biofeedback in reducing anger and anxiety disorders, asthma, cardiovascular disorders, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, essential hypertension and irritable bowel syndrome (Lehrer et al, 2004; Lehrer et al, 2006; Hassett et al, 2007).
What is Biofeedback? Biofeedback involves measuring a person's bodily processes such as heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, skin conductance or muscle tension, and conveying that information to them, usually graphically on a computer monitor, in real time so they can become consciously aware of these processes and gradually learn to control them. It is not even necessary to see the actual graphs. Some inexpensive computer software is available (such as Journey to the Wild Divine) that presents you with interactive images that change in the desired way only if you can effectively control your physiological functions.
But how can I use Biofeedback to increase my HRV? All this requires is learning some simple breathing techniques, consciously letting go of worries and pressures and imagining a calm scene in your mind. The biofeedback will continuously give you information on how you are doing.
Mind-Body-Science can come to your worksite if it is located in the southwest USA (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico) and provide Reiki and/or Biofeedback Workshops to educate you and your employees and to demonstrate the techniques. If you decide that you would like to offer these stress-reduction techniques to your employees, we can make return visits to your worksite to perform Reiki attunements on a given number of employees so that they can then provide Reiki sessions to your other employees. In addition, we can provide Biofeedback training and coach you and your employees in the use of the computer software programs.
The beneficial outcomes of providing these forms of stress reduction are enormous and will result in healthier, happier and more prosperous communities.
Contact us to learn more about on-site visits.
Baldwin AL and Schwartz GE. Personal interaction with a Reiki practitioner decreases noise-induced microvascular damage in an animal model. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12(1): 15-22, 2006
Blumenthal JA, Babyak M, Wei J, O'Connor C, et al. Usefulness of psychosocial treatment of mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia in men. American Journal of Cardiology, 90(1): 164-168, 2002
Hassett AL, Radvanski DC, Vaschillo B, Sigal LH, et al. A pilot study of the efficacy of heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback in patients with fibromyalgia. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 32(1): 1-10, 2007
Kirby ED, Williams VP, Hocking MC, Lane JD and Williams RB. Psychosocial benefits of three formats of a standardized behavioral stress management program. Psychosomatic Medicine, 68: 816-823, 2006
Lehrer PM, Vaschillo E, Vaschillo B, Lu SE, et al. Biofeedback treatment for asthma. Chest, 126(2): 352-361, 2004
Lehrer P, Vaschillo E, Lu SE, Eckberg D, et al. Effects of age on heart rate variability, baroreflex gain and asthma. Chest, 129: 278-284, 2006
Mackay N, Hansen S and McFarlane O. Autonomic nervous system changes during Reiki treatment: A preliminary study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 10(6): 1077-1081, 2004
Schneider RH, Alexander CN, Staggers F, Rainforth M, et al. American Journal of Cardiology, 95(9): 1060-1064, 2005
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