Overview: The state of gratitude lowers the systolic blood pressure response to stress testing experiences, demonstrating that gratitude has a unique buffering effect against both responses to and recovery from psychological stress.
Source: BIAL Foundation
Researchers from Irish universities conducted a study with 68 adults and found that gratitude has a unique stress-buffering effect on both responses to and recovery from acute psychological stress, which may help improve cardiovascular health.
Knowing that stress affects people and has an impact on their health and well-being, namely causing high blood pressure and increasing cardiovascular morbidity and coronary heart disease, it is important to know our responses to stress and consider whether there are factors that can play important stress-buffering roles to play.
In the article “Gratitude, Affect Balance, and Stress Buffering: A Growth Curve Study of Cardiovascular Responses to a Laboratory Stress Task,” published in January in the Journal of PsychophysiologyBrian Leavy, Brenda H. O’Connell and Deirdre O’Shea argue that while previous research suggests that gratitude and affect balance play important stress-buffering roles, little is known to date about the impact of these variables on cardiovascular recovery from acute psychological stress .
That was the focus of the study by the researchers at the Universities of Maynooth and Limerick in Ireland, who also sought to find out whether affect balance moderates the relationship between gratitude and cardiovascular responses to acute psychological stress.
The study, conducted at Ireland’s University of Maynooth, involved 68 undergraduate students (24 males and 44 females), aged between 18 and 57. This study utilized an within-subject experimental design with laboratory tasks in which stress was induced in participants and then measured for cardiovascular reactivity and recovery in response.
The results showed that state gratitude predicted lower systolic blood pressure responses throughout the stress testing period, meaning that state gratitude has a unique stress-buffering effect on both responses to and recovery from acute psychological stress. Affect balance was also found to enhance the effects of state gratitude.
These findings have clinical utility because there are several inexpensive gratitude interventions that can contribute to well-being (Wood et al., 2010). For example, previous research has shown that heart patients who use gratitude journals have better cardiovascular outcomes than those who do not (Redwine et al., 2016).
Combined with the results of this study and previous work, gratitude may thus represent a useful intervention point for improving our cardiovascular health.
About this stress research news
Writer: Press Office
Source: BIAL Foundation
Contact: Press service – BIAL Foundation
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Original research: Closed access.
“Gratitude, Affect Balance, and Stress Buffering: A Growth Curve Study of Cardiovascular Responses to a Stress Task in the Laboratory” by Brian Leavy et al. Journal of Psychophysiology
Gratitude, effect balance, and stress buffering: a growth curve study of cardiovascular responses to a laboratory stress task
Previous research has shown that gratitude and affect balance play important stress-buffering roles. However, to date, limited research has investigated the impact of gratitude and affect balance on cardiovascular recovery from acute psychological stress, and whether affect balance moderates the relationship between gratitude and cardiovascular responses to acute psychological stress.
In this study, 68 adults completed measures of state gratitude, positive and negative affect, and completed a laboratory-based cardiovascular stress testing protocol. This included a 20-minute acclimation period, a 10-minute baseline, a 6-minute arithmetic stress task, and an 8-minute recovery period.
Mixed-effects growth curve models were appropriate and the results indicated that state gratitude predicted lower systolic blood pressure responses during the stress test period. Affect balance was found to moderate the association between state gratitude and diastolic blood pressure responses to stress, amplifying the effects of state gratitude.
These findings suggest that state gratitude has a unique stress-buffering effect on both responses to and recovery from acute psychological stress.