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Simple relaxation techniques are an effective coping strategy for grief after losing a loved one.

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Finding an easy way to relax the body may be effective in treating the post-mortem sorrow of a loved one, according to a new study at the University of Arizona.

Unexpected discoveries come from new studies comparing two methods for treatment sorrow: One focused on the mind and the other focused on the body. Researchers examined 95 widows and widows who lost their spouses in the last 6 months or within 2 years of the start of the study.

“What surprised us was that the ability to focus and really relax the body turned out to be very important in helping people adapt,” said Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona. Said Mary Frances O’Connor, senior author of the study at. ..

The study was published this month Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology According to O’Connor and Principal Investigator Lindsey Knowles, who worked as doctoral candidates in O’Connor’s lab.

One group of study participants was led to a six-week mindfulness training, where they learned how to focus their attention. Current moment With kindness and curiosity, you can move difficult thoughts and feelings back and forth without trying to change anything about your experience.Another group went through a 6-week guided session on progressive Muscle relaxationThere, they learned to gradually relax different groups of muscles to make difficult emotions more tolerable.

“The main difference between the two is that mindfulness does not try to change it, but learns what it is and what it should be, and gives it a compassionate, unjudgmental stance.” Knowles, who is currently a senior researcher at the university, said. Washington School of Medicine and VA Paget Sound Healthcare System. “progressive logic relaxation “How can we help you to be in the present moment, but can you feel better?”

The third group of study participants was assigned to the waiting list and did not receive either treatment. These participants served as a control group for the study, a benchmark for comparing the progress of other groups.

Learn calculus while running a marathon

Knowles, a certified mindfulness meditation facilitator, has long been interested in studying whether mindfulness can be used to deal with grief. She began working to answer that question when she arrived in O’Connor’s lab in 2013.

O’Connor has been studying grief and its key elements for decades. This includes the thirst for the lost loved one to come back. ..

“Because there shouldn’t have been a real answer, we can spin those thoughts forever, which can really get in the way of adaptation,” O’Connor said.

She said these symptoms stress not only the mind but also the body. Researchers have long known that bereavement and loss can have physical consequences such as high blood pressure and an even higher risk of death. According to O’Connor, finding the right ways to deal with grief presents a unique challenge, as learning those ways can increase stress.

“We sometimes say that sadness is like trying to learn calculus while running a marathon,” she said.

Using three questionnaires and scales developed by O’Connor while studying grief, researchers found that grief severity, longing, and grief in the mindfulness and relaxation groups compared to the waiting list group. We measured whether the rumination improved. They ask participants to read some statements, such as “I can’t express them in words because I have a strong desire to get them back,” and feel that way in five steps from “never” to “always.” Shown the frequency.

Both mindfulness and muscle relaxation provided a clear improvement in the severity and longing of participants’ grief. However, comparing the groups with each other, researchers found that progressive muscle relaxation was more useful.

“I was surprised that progressive muscle relaxation outperformed the waiting list group and did not outperform attention,” Knowles said. “However, it was still good that both the mindfulness and the progressive muscle relaxation group showed a change in the severity of grief over time.”

More effective and accessible

Another advantage of progressive muscle relaxation is that it is easier to implement than mindfulness training. Knowles said that after years of practicing mindfulness, he is still learning new ways to improve his mindfulness practice.

“But progressive muscle relaxation is this simple tool that participants have learned over and over again. They practiced it as a group and practiced it at home,” Knowles said. .. “In the end, one of the things we’re pulling out is that this clear focus on the body is more sad than introducing much of this mindfulness toolkit, which takes more time. It means that it can be more beneficial to you. Become an expert. “

Progressive muscle relaxation also does not require formal training or certification for healthcare providers, making it easier to deliver to patients. O’Connor said the findings are particularly relevant in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 600,000 people in the United States and leaves an exponentially large number of people currently saddened.

“There are many people now dealing with the stress of bereavement. Too many psychologists work with each and every one,” O’Connor said. “Given the bereavement at the public health level forced by the pandemic, giving people what they can do at home and relaxing their bodies during this stressful time has a huge impact on our public health. There is a possibility.”


Sleep disorders can complicate the process of sadness


For more information:
Lindsey M. Knowles et al, a controlled trial of two psychosomatic interventions for widow and widow grief. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (2021). DOI: 10.1037 / ccp0000653

Quote: A simple relaxation technique for a loved one (August 19, 2021) obtained from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-08-simple-technique-effective-coping on August 19, 2021. An effective coping strategy for post-loss sadness. -strategy.html

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Simple relaxation techniques are an effective coping strategy for grief after losing a loved one.

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