Stress is an ongoing part of life, and it can have an enormous impact on our physical and mental well-being. Therefore, identifying strategies to manage stress is of great importance. For instance, a recent research has shown that gratitude can help alleviate the effects of acute psychological stress.
Researchers from Irish universities conducted a research on 68 individuals who discovered that gratitude has a unique stress-buffering effect on both the initial reaction to and the recovery from acute psychological stress. This unique ability might play a role in improving cardiovascular health.
Stress can have an impact on human health and well-being, including by causing high blood pressure and increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and it is critical to identify potential triggers that can act as effective stress buffers.
Brian Leavy, Brenda H. O'Connell, and Deirdre O'Shea propose that, despite previous research showing that gratitude and affect-balance play important stress-fighting roles, little is known about their impact on cardiovascular recovery from acute psychological stress.
Researchers from the Universities of Maynooth and Limerick in Ireland aimed at examining whether affect balance modifies the relationship between gratitude and cardiovascular responses to acute psychological stress.
The Irish University of Maynooth conducted a study on 68 undergraduate students (24 male and 44 female), aged between 18 and 57 years old. Stress was administered on participants then cardio reactivity and recovery were measured.
State gratitude predicted decreased systolic blood pressure responses throughout the stress testing period, which implies that the state of gratitude exerts a unique stress-buffering effect on both reactions to and recovery from acute psychological stress, according to the study.
These findings have clinical relevance as there are several low-cost gratitude interventions which can improve health (Wood et al., 2010). For example, previous research has shown that cardiac patients who use gratitude journals have better cardiovascular outcomes than those who do not (Redwine et al., 2016).
Brian Leavy, Brenda H. O'Connell, and Deirdre O'Shea, “Gratitude, affect balance, and stress buffering,” in International Journal of Psychophysiology, 25 November 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2022.11.013
The BIAL Foundation provided funding for this research.