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Stress management at the worksite. Reversal of symptoms profile and cardiovascular dysregulation.

09 Feb

A study at the University of Milan with white collar workers being downsized shows that a simple stress reduction program could be implemented at the worksite, with possible preventive advantages for hypertension.

Researchers from the University of Milan compared 91 white-collar workers, enrolled at a time of work downsizing (hence, in a stress condition), with 79 healthy control subjects, for signs of altered nervous system or arterial pressure, and to test whether a simple, onsite stress management program, based on cognitive restructuring and relaxation training, could reduce the level of stress symptoms, revert stress-related autonomic nervous system dysregulation, and lower arterial pressure. This was compared to a sham program condition.

As hypothesized, workers presented an elevated level of stress-related symptoms and an altered variability profile as compared with the control subjects (low-frequency component of RR variability was, respectively, 65.2+/-2 versus 55.3+/-2 normalized units; P<0.001; opposite changes were observed for the high-frequency component).

These alterations were largely reverted (low-frequency component of RR variability from 63.6+/-3.9 to 49.3+/-3 normalized units; P<0.001) by the stress management program, which also slightly lowered systolic arterial pressure. No changes were observed in the sham program group.

This noninvasive study indicates that work stress is associated with unpleasant symptoms and with an altered autonomic profile, and it suggests that a stress management program could be implemented at the worksite, with possible preventive advantages for hypertension.

Citation: Lucini D, Riva S, Pizzinelli P, Pagani M. Stress Management at the Worksite. Reversal of Symptoms Profile and Cardiovascular Dysregulation. Hypertension. 2007 Jan 8; [Epub ahead of print]
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award