This paper will examine the use of positive psychological exercises on well-being through viewing variations of heart rate when completing the exercises. Research from Cohen and Pressman (2006) state that disorders, such as, depression and anxiety have been examined as a larger risk for mortality rates. A great extent of research has proved that greater wellbeing has a strong correlation to a better physical health, findings by Cohen and Pressman (2005) whom examined the improvement of cardiovascular health and lowering morbidity when having a consistent exposure to positive affect. Positive affect are emotions that exhibit a degree of happiness, pleasantness and joy (Clark, Watson and Leeka, 1989). I will be assessing the uses of positive psychological exercises and viewing my own cardiovascular health to see if there is a direct cause and effect. My hypothesis is that there will be a direct relationship between positive affect and a better cardiovascular health.
I was able to investigate the use of positive psychological exercises on my own cardiovascular health through a self-intervention. I measured my pulse before the positive psychology activities, to use as a baseline (rest). After the baseline was measured, there were two conditions that I went through, one was a positive calm condition (PCC) and the other a positive active condition (PAC). During the positive calm condition, I watched a mindfulness exercise for 4 minutes long. For the positive active condition, I watched a laughing yoga exercise that also consisted of 4 minutes. Afterwards, there was a 10 minute resting stage between both conditions to make sure that the cardiovascular effects of the positive calm exercise did not coincide with the positive active exercise result. To ensure that any extraneous variables were controlled, I completed the tasks and measured my heart rate regularly throughout the 7 days.
Over the duration of a week, in positive calm condition, my heart rate dropped by an average of 3.17 BPM. This displays that the mindfulness activity caused a drop in heart rate due to the state of deep relaxation. Supporting research from Delizonna, Williams and Langer (2009) whom stated that mindfulness training has an effect on cardiovascular health after finding participants had a decrease in average heart rate compared to the control group. Therefore, this indicates that there is, in fact, a direct correlation between positive affect exercises and cardiovascular health. However, Krygier et al. (2013) rejects my findings on how mindfulness meditation can hold a change in one’s wellbeing. After investigating a way of mindfulness meditation – Vipassana, researchers found that the participants heart rate increased.
During the positive active condition, my heart rate averaged to 1.52 BPM. This indicates that there is an increase in heart rate after the laughing yoga intervention. Laughter may have a positive psychological benefit as it is able to express happiness, improving overall mood, this is clearly shown in my findings. It is possible that this is due to my sympathetic nervous system, as it increases my heart rate and the activation base (Dolgoff-Kaspar et al., 2012). Fredrickson et al. (2000) whom allegedly stated that positive emotions have the aptitude to unravel the effects of negative emotions and can bring back the heart rate to its baseline state instantly. 170 participants took part in a stressful activity followed by videos eliciting subjects such as amusement, neutral and contentment. Fredrickson et al. (2000) found that due to cardiovascular reactivity there was a shorter elevation of heart rate in the positive emotion conditions. Therefore, this supports my findings as it showed that a positive active intervention is able to express happiness and overall, generates a positive mood which improves mental health.
Limitations towards my self-intervention findings, is that the results I have obtained during the 7 day exercise, might not represent the rest of the population. This is due to my own approach towards the positive psychology exercises which have had a unique result on my own cardiovascular health. If the two exercises were conducted on other participants within the same demographics as myself, the findings may hold a high level of reliability. During my self-intervention whilst doing the positive calm condition, I found a change in my mental state as I became much more relaxed gradually during the exercise. This shows that through a state of relaxation, I was able to maintain a calm state, a positive emotion which changed my well-being. This shows that there is a correlation between positive psychology exercises and having a better well-being. During the positive active condition, I also had a positive mindset during the exercises. As the observation consisted of 7 days, my overall mental state improved due to more positive emotions seeking out daily. This shows how overall positive exercises can have a positive impact on ones’ mental health.
I believe that these exercises may have more of an impact for certain people that may be undergoing certain mental illnesses such as depression, which means that the positive affect activities may boost their wellbeing and change their perspective on life itself. Wheeler et al. (2014) stated that depression has a connection with an increase of cardiac morbidity, this is due to the high heart rate and lowered heart rate variation which may elaborate that people with depression are at a risk of a cardiac problem.