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Natural Awakenings

Try Music and Muscle Relaxation to Lower Surgery Anxiety

Person lying in hospital bed with headphones on listening to music

Sasirin Pamai/EyeEm/AdobeStock.com

Surgery often activates high levels of anxiety in patients, but a Chinese pilot study of 116 women undergoing operations for gynecological cancer found that simple strategies dubbed “expressive arts therapy” can help. In the study group, women were encouraged to dance and do handicrafts while listening to music the day before the surgery. They practiced progressive muscle relaxation and listened to music immediately after the surgery, and on the day before their release, they were invited to write and draw to express their emotions. The researchers found that women in the therapy group experienced significantly less anxiety during their operations than women in a placebo group, although the effects didn’t continue after discharge. Ninety-eight percent of the women found the therapy beneficial.

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