"New" Finding of Relaxation Study: Everyone Likes Choices

Listeners to mind-body recordings like to have some choice on what they’re listening to. More than five options can get overwhelming.  Two is too few. The sweet spot appears to be 3- 5…..  

It’s reassuring to keep getting the same findings, over and over again.  

Time and again, we’ve learned that listeners to mind-body recordings like to have some choice on what they’re listening to. Hearing the same guided meditation, over and over again, may get the job done, but it starts to feel less and less appealing to do.  

So although many subjects and patients will agree to listen to something for six weeks, every day for 20 minutes, more will actually do it if they have 4 or 5 audios to choose from for their 20-minute session.  

We learned this from the transitioning Soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  We started out giving them just one or two audios to listen to, but their feedback told us they’d like more to choose from.  The same lesson was taught by women veterans with posttraumatic stress and military sexual trauma, to the research team at Duke/Durham VAMC.  Pain patients, stressed out college students, members of HMO’s and others followed with similar lessons – more choice, please (but not too much).

A recent journal article  studying the impact of different relaxation techniques on COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) arrived at the same conclusion.  British researchers, in trying to determine which relaxation techniques were most preferred, presented COPD patients with six different techniques to try via DVD.

Interestingly, the most commonly preferred technique was "thinking of a nice place", i.e., guided imagery, both for effectiveness and ease of use. This was followed by progressive relaxation and counting the breath.  Familiarity and ease of activity were the most commonly given reasons for a preference.

The investigators concluded that, rather than providing patients with a single technique, it would be better to offer a choice.

Yep.  We knew that.  But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded.  So, if you’re introducing a mind-body technique to someone, consider giving him or her a choice of different methods, voices and styles. It gives the likelihood of adoption a better shot.  

Take care and be well,

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  Hyland ME, Halpin DM, et al. Preference for different relaxation techniques by COPD patients: comparison between six techniques. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2016 Sep 19;11:2315-2319. eCollection 2016.