Calligraphy and meditation for stress reduction: an experimental comparison
Henry SR Kao,1 Lin Zhu,2 An An Chao,3 Hao Yi Chen,4 Ivy CY Liu,5 Manlin Zhang6
1Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; 2Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing, 3International Society of Calligraphy Therapy, Hong Kong; 4Department of Business Administration, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan, 5Department of Psychology, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan; 6Department of Psychology, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
Background: Chinese calligraphic handwriting (CCH) has demonstrated a new role in health and therapy. Meanwhile, meditation is an traditional and effective method for coping with stress and staying healthy. This study compared the effectiveness of CCH and meditation as distinctive and parallel stress reduction interventions.
Methods: Thirty graduate students and academic staff members in Taiwan who suffered from stress were selected by the General Health Questionnaire and randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups, ie, a CCH group, a meditation group, or a control group, for 8 consecutive weeks. Changes in physiological parameters were measured before, during, and after treatment.
Results: CCH and meditation showed their strength in the respective indices of stress. There was a significant difference in respiratory rate, heart rate, and electromyographic scores between the groups. Comparing pre- and post-effects, a decrease in heart rate and an increase in skin temperature was seen in subjects who practiced CCH. Increased skin temperature and decreased respiratory rate were also seen in subjects who practiced meditation, along with reduced muscle tension and heart rate.
Conclusion: CCH and meditation have good effects in stress reduction. CCH is a particularly promising new approach to reducing stress.
Keywords: calligraphic handwriting, meditation, stress reduction, intervention
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