Annotated Bibliography: Stress Management Techniques

Stress management denotes the wide spectrum of approaches and psychotherapies to control an individual’s stress levels, particularly chronic stress, and improve an individual’s functioning. Effective stress management helps one break life stress and be more productive, healthier, and happier. Several stress management techniques have been proposed and experimented by researchers and scholars, including relaxation, counselling, group therapy, a healthy lifestyle, and physical activity. The present annotated bibliography explores various stress managements approaches available in scholarly literature.

Muthard, C., & Gilbertson, R. (2016). “Stress Management in Young Adults: Implications of Mandala Coloring on Self-Reported Negative Affect and Psychophysiological Response.” Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research21(1).


Muthard & Gilbertson (2016), in their study, examined the efficiency of mandala coloring combined with the focused-breathing approach in minimizing negative affect, anxiety, and psychophysiological stress response when one is exposed to psychosocial stressors. The authors hypothesized that mandala coloring as a form of art therapy technique could help get rid of stress and increase an individual focus while engaging the brain and expressing creativity. The patient engages in filling the geometrical patterns instead of meditating about their worry. They further maintain that stress does not have to be traumatic to cause damaging health effects. Any stimulus that provokes a stress response is a stressor. The presence of stressors is linked to cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, psychological, and respiratory diseases. Besides, the authors, through empirical study, argue that about 82% of US adults are likely to be exposed to traumatic and stressful events in their lifetime, hence the need for effective stress management techniques.

The study adopted the validated psychosocial stressors, “the Trier Social Stress Test,” and comprised of four phases that encompassed baseline (standing and sitting), Speech 1 and 2, post-stress manipulation approaches, which constituted one group doing a 7-min of mandala coloring combined with focused breathing and other group left with no task as a control experiment. The researcher assessed the blood pressure, state anxiety, and self-reported positive and negative affect once in every phase. The skin conductance level, pulse and heart rates were assessed throughout the experiments.

The study findings showed that state anxiety and self-reported negative affect were lower for the first group engaged in the mandala coloring experiment than on the no-task control experiment group following exposure to psychological stressors. A trend towards significant decrease was also found in state anxiety for the ground doing mandala coloring and focus-breathing than the no-task experimental population. The study findings thus support the researchers’ hypothesis that mandala coloring as a form of art therapy technique can help get rid of stress and increase an individual focus while engaging the brain and expressing creativity. The research findings suggest modest evidence-based support for the success of mandala coloring matched with already authenticated focused breathing as a successful approach for managing state anxiety and self-reported negative affect.

Shearer, A., Hunt, M., Chowdhury, M., & Nicol, L. (2016). “Effects of a brief mindfulness meditation intervention on student stress and heart rate variability.” International Journal of Stress Management, 23(2), 232.

Shearer et al. (2016) argued that mindfulness-based meditation could be a practical approach to manage stress and heart rate variability among students. The researchers maintained that college life is stressful and often occasioned by academic pressure characterized by less time for study, rest or leisure activities, which are stressors contributing significantly to subjective stress such as psychological symptoms of depression and anxiety among students. Poorly managed stress can cause poor psychological and physical health, and an attempt to manage aspects such as anxiety can lead to the adoption of possibly harmful coping techniques. The authors proposed mindfulness-based stress management as an adaptive coping approach for stress reduction. Mindfulness is defined in the article as paying attention precisely on purpose, non-judgmentally to the current moment. The approach correlates with several positive traits: emotional intelligence, self-esteem, positive affect, self-compassion, autonomy, life satisfaction, competence, self-actualization, and numerous related fulfilment. Because of the link between mindfulness and numerous positive outcomes, mindfulness meditation’s primary goal is to help stressed people attain this adaptive state, reducing stress.

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During the study, the researchers adopted an experimental study, comparing mindfulness technique with ecologically effective, active control, interaction with a dog at the group experiment pause, and no-treatment control. Seventy-four students were recruited to participate in the experiment and were randomly assigned to either group. Both phases of the experiment comprised students randomized into either mindfulness meditation group, active control group (dog group) or no-treatment group. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), observing the changes in the state anxiety over time, showed a significant effect on the group. Planned comparison in the first phase indicated that the control group differed from both mindfulness and dog groups. The mindfulness and dog groups also exhibited differences from each other.