Feasibility Study of a Stress Reducing Self-Regulation Intervention in School Aged Children of Low Socioeconomic Status
Hlavacek, Patrick R.
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Progressive muscle relaxation's (PMR) and diaphragm breathing's stress reducing effects were examined for children of low socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status (SES) and stress have been linked to health disparities in adults. Stress during critical periods of development may cause adverse health effects later in life in addition to disruptions to cognitive development. Children of low SES were studied in an academic classroom setting. At week one, all groups reported similar levels of perceived stress. As each week progressed, the group exposed to both protocols became increasingly less stressed compared to the non participating group. Children who participated in PMR and diaphragm breathing protocols had lower levels of perceived and actual stress each subsequent week starting from week one. Children who did not participate in both protocols maintained similar levels of perceived stress throughout the study. These findings suggest that more alternative programs need to be implemented to reduce stress in school for children of low socioeconomic status. In addition, further research is needed to indicate whether the reduction of stress by way of self-regulation will improve health outcomes for high risk and vulnerable populations. The amelioration of health disparities may be possible through the reduction of stress by the implementation of self-regulation techniques within schools.