Monday, September 24, 2007

Wham: Significant Stress Reduction Via Massage, Aromatherapy and Music

Nurses in Australia were super stressed-out during their shifts in an emergency room environment in a major hospital. But, after short aromatherapy massages while listening to music, their stress levels fell--dramatically--to levels that meant additional satisfaction for patients, and a lot more happiness for the nurses. This is based upon recent research in the September 2007 edition of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Researchers found that 60 per cent of the nursing staff--54 per cent in summer and 65 per cent in winter--suffered from moderate to extreme anxiety. This fell to just eight per cent, regardless of the season, once staff had received these 15-minute aromatherapy massages while listening to relaxing new-age music.

A qualified therapist provided the massage, and that person sprayed aromatherapy mist above the heads of participants and then massaged their shoulders, mid back, neck, scalp forehead and temples while they listened to relaxing music on headphones. Participants were able to choose the essential oil used, from rose, lavender, lime or ocean breeze (a combination of lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot and patchouli).

Sixteen massages were carried out over a two-day work period each week for 12 weeks in summer and 12 weeks in winter, with the names of all staff working those days put into an envelope and selected at random.

"There is scope for a lot more research into this area," concludes one of the authors. "We would be interested to see if different types of alternative therapy produced different results and whether factors such as age, gender and health status had any effect on the outcome. But what is clear from this study is that providing aromatherapy massage had an immediate and dramatic effect on staff who traditionally suffer high anxiety levels because of the nature of their work."

Reading stories like these points to the need for introducing stress reduction strategies in the workplace for other types of workers. This could be a valuable tool for employers who are interested in tackling anxiety levels in high-pressure roles in order to increase job satisfaction and reduce employee turnover.


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