Volume 13

A Comparison of the Effectiveness of Three Stress Reducers: Prayer, Meditation and Art

Colleen Arico, Paul Sullivan, and Hilary Novak

Stress has been found to be linked to a variety of physiological disorders. As a result, reactions to stress and ways of coping with stress have been the subjects of much research. Findings suggest that stress may be reduced in a variety of ways. We compared the effectiveness of three specific stress reducers; prayer, meditation and participation in an art activity in a college sample. We measured the effectiveness of prayer, meditation, and art on reducing acutely induced stress in 120 undergraduate psychology students. A total of six classrooms of students were randomly assigned to complete one of the three stress reduction activities while viewing either stress inducing or neutral images. Students completed measures of stress and anxiety both before and after the activity. A 2 X 3 Between Subjects ANOVA revealed that meditation was more effective at reducing stress than prayer or participation in an art activity. Additionally, art was more effective at reducing stress than prayer. Students exposed to stress producing stimuli also reported lower levels of stress reduction regardless of the specific stress reducer than students exposed to non-stress producing stimuli. Results indicate that meditation is an effective means of stress reduction for college students.

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