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High-Tech Stressbusters


WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Maureen Connolly

Redbook Magazine LogoREDBOOK tested 6 relaxation tools. Find out which ones delivered results.

 

 

Our experience: Coiled energy? Theta waves? We were skeptical—and the warped-sounding background music was odd. But Kelly Howell's soothing voice won us over. In fact, one tester felt calmer after listening to just the introduction.

Bottom line: There's no knowing whether this CD arouses kundalini, but it can lay stress to rest.

Until Tomorrow...A Gentle Guide for a Good Night's Sleep : ($15.99, sleepuntiltomorrow.com): Created by Juhi Singh, an acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist, and yoga instructor, this CD has a guided-meditation track with instrumental music to help you fall asleep, and another track to gently rouse you (this requires a CD alarm to activate). Singh's sleep-inducing plan: She asks you to close your eyes, follow her voice, put aside expectations, and breathe deeply.

Our experience: A few seconds of Singh's voice was enough to make our eyelids grow heavy, and listeners reported feeling "very relaxed" before drifting off into a sound sleep—though one tester found the wake-up track "irritating. Her soothing voice just made me want to go back to sleep."

Bottom line: This CD can bring on sound slumber, and adequate sleep is proved to lower stress-hormone levels.

Instant Relaxation Guided Meditation DVD ($27, meditainment.com): Using your DVD remote, you can customize your experience by indicating your stress level, your goal (such as calmness and clarity or a good night's sleep), where you want to meditate (by the ocean or in a meadow), the music, and guide (a male or female voice).

Our experience: We liked being able to personalize each session. Graphically beautiful settings and the narrator's comforting voice helped put one staffer "in a happy, mellow zone."

Bottom line: A really effective, user-friendly device for de-stressing.

Brookstone Nature Sounds Massage System ($60, brookstone.com): This foam neck cushion with built-in speakers comes with a handheld control pad that allows you to choose a neck massage, heat, and/or nature sounds, including a summer night, waterfall, or rain forest.

Our experience: The massage and sound quality were just so-so. "The waterfall sounded more like a frying egg," said one tester.

Bottom line: Save yourself the 60 bucks and invest in a CD of soothing nature sounds you can listen to while taking a hot shower.

The Journey to Wild Divine: The Passage ($159.95, wilddivine.com): This computer game comes with finger sensors that measure pulse and skin-conductance level (sweat-gland activity), both of which jump when stress is high. It then coaches you to control these reactions via breathing, relaxation, and meditation techniques, all the while guiding you on a visual journey through exotic landscapes.

Our experience: The graphics are gorgeous, and the breathing exercises kept us centered and calm. But one staffer's computer couldn't handle the elaborate animation, so the sound often lagged behind the images, plus the program worked more smoothly on Macs than on PCs.

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