Jamie jackson ph d postdoctoral researcher center for biobehavioral health the heart center
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Jamie Jackson, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Researcher Center for Biobehavioral Health & The Heart Center. Maintaining a Positive Emotional Outlook with Heart Disease. Overview. Why do our emotions matter? Thoughts, emotions, and physiology are connected What does the research say? Optimism

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Maintaining a Positive Emotional Outlook with Heart Disease

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Jamie jackson ph d postdoctoral researcher center for biobehavioral health the heart center

Jamie Jackson, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Center for Biobehavioral Health & The Heart Center

Maintaining a Positive Emotional Outlook with Heart Disease


Overview

Overview

  • Why do our emotions matter?

    • Thoughts, emotions, and physiology are connected

  • What does the research say?

    • Optimism

    • Denial

  • What can we do to stay positive?

    • Strategies and ways to implement them


Maintaining a positive emotional outlook with heart disease

Why do emotions matter?


Emotions as part of a system

Emotions as part of a system

  • Emotions don’t happen in isolation:

Physiology

Emotions

Thoughts


Situation being cut off while driving

Situation: Being cut off while driving

* Blood pressure

* Heart rate

Physiology

Emotions

Thoughts

“What a jerk!!”


Situation being cut off w hile d riving

Situation: Being cut off while driving

* Blood pressure

* Heart rate

Physiology

Emotions

Thoughts

“He might have had an emergency.”


Maintaining a positive emotional outlook with heart disease

What does research say about positive emotions?


Optimism

Optimism

  • op∙ti∙mism*

  • An inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome

  • Optimism has been shown to stay consistent throughout many years of a person’s life (a personality trait)

*Merriam-Webster Dictionary


Optimism and heart d isease

Optimism and heart disease

Faster recovery from CABG surgery

Optimism

Better results from cardiac rehab

Less depressive symptoms 1-year after heart attack


How does optimism help

How does optimism help?

  • People higher in optimism show less physiological signs of stress during stressful situations

  • Why?

  • Interpretation of the world

    • Optimism = less likely to interpret threat or malice

    • Consequence: body is less likely to be reactive


Is denial the same as optimism

Is denial the same as optimism?

NO

  • Denial is the avoidance of experiencing negative emotions

    • This may include unrealistic views of the world

  • Benefits of denial in the short-term

    • May result in failure to change in the long-term


Denial vs optimism

Denial vs. Optimism

Denial

Optimism

Avoidance of negative emotions

Anticipating best possible outcomes

Unrealistic view of the world

Positive but realistic perspective

Discourages positive health behavior changes

Promotes positive health behavior changes


Goal is to

Goal is to…

  • Be realistic.

  • Hope for the best while making strides to improve the situation.


Maintaining a positive emotional outlook with heart disease

What can we do to stay positive?


Emotions as visitors

Emotions as visitors

  • Negative emotions, like all guests, should be greeted

    • Welcome it in (acknowledge it)

    • Then invite it to leave when you are ready

  • Our thoughts serve as invitations for emotions to either stick around or “hit the road”


Watch the thoughts

Watch the thoughts

  • Thought distortions can rekindle negative emotions

    • All or nothing thinking

    • Mindreading

    • Catastrophizing

  • Thought distortion kryptonite: realism

    • Be the scientist and examine the evidence

    • How likely is this going to happen?


Sad songs say so much

“Sad Songs (Say So Much)”

  • Emotions want to stick around and can compel us to listen to music that fits our mood

    • Try doing the opposite…listen to something upbeat and positive

    • Same goes for movies or the type of people you gravitate towards


Communication is key

Communication is key

  • Research suggests that emotional expression is associated with better quality of life

    • Talk to someone

    • Journaling

    • Counseling


The power of hobbies

The power of hobbies

  • “Get a hobby” – actually, that’s good advice

  • Doing what you like helps boosts positive mood

    • Improves mild to moderate symptoms of depression

  • Schedule in time for you

    • Extra-long hot bath, reading before bedtime, taking the dog for a walk


Relaxation

Relaxation

  • “Just relax” – yet another great suggestion… But, how?

    • Ways to teach relaxation to your body:

      • Deep breathing (diaphragmatic breathing)

      • Guided imagery and meditation

      • Progressive muscle relaxation


Exercise a good stress

Exercise (a good stress)

  • Promotes cardiac health and physiological relaxation

  • Improves mood

    • Research has also found this among patients in cardiac rehab!


Take home message

Take-Home Message

Strive to be realistic about the situation, while hoping for the best

Acknowledge negative emotions, but invite them to leave

Be mindful, scientific, and physically engaged


Maintaining a positive emotional outlook with heart disease

Thank you!


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