The Stress-Buffering Effects of Gratitude: How It Enhances Heart Health

Researchers conducted a 68 individual study and discovered that gratitude has a unique stress-reducing impact in terms of responses to acute psychological stress as well as recovery, which could help contribute to cardiovascular health enhancement.

Recognizing that stress has an adverse effect on people and can negatively influence their health and wellbeing, such as increasing hypertension or cardiovascular morbidity, it is necessary to study our responses to stress to identify any factors which might serve as buffers against it.

Researchers suggest that while prior research indicates gratitude and affect as key elements for mitigating stress-buffering, relatively little is understood regarding their impact on cardiovascular recovery from acute psychological stress.

This study focused on this hypothesis to assess if affect balance could effectively moderate gratitude and cardiovascular response responses to acute psychological stress.

This research involved 44 female and 24 male undergraduate students aged 18-57 years who took part in an experimental within-subjects method with lab tasks, where stress was instilled on those participating and then measured their responses regarding cardiovascular reactivity and recovery.

Results revealed that gratitude predicted lower responses of systolic blood pressure during periods of stress testing, suggesting it has a distinct stress-buffering impact both during acute psychological stress reactions and recovery processes. Furthermore, affect balance was found to amplify gratitude’s beneficial effects.

These results have clinical relevance as there are various low-cost gratitude therapies that can contribute to greater well-being. As an example, studies have demonstrated how cardiac patients who utilize gratitude journals achieve superior cardiovascular outcomes than individuals who don’t.

With these and previous studies’ results in mind, gratitude may serve as an effective treatment strategy to promote cardiovascular health improvement.

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