Definitions 

Self-Affirmation:  The recognition and assertion of the existence and value of one's individual self.
 

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 Mind–body research moves towards the mainstream.

 

HRV and Immunity

 

  1. The interplay between heart rate variability (HRV) and the immune system is complex, but recent developments in the study of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway indicate that a healthier HRV is related to fewer inflammatory markers in both healthy individuals and individuals with cardiovascular diseases. In short, if you have a healthier HRV, your body is better prepared to fend off sickness.
     

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References

Title: The Psychology of Self-Defense: Self-Affirmation Theory

Author(s): David K. Sherman  G. L. Cohen

Link: https://ed.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/self_defense.pdf

Abstract:  Self-affirmation processes are being activated by information that threatens the perceived adequacy or integrity of the self and as running their course until this perception is restored through explanation, rationalization, and/or action. The purpose of these constant explanations (and rationalizations) is to maintain a phenomenal experience of the self-self-conceptions and images as adaptively and morally adequate—that is, as competent, good, coherent, unitary, stable, capable of free choice, capable of controlling important outcomes, and so on. The research reported in this chapter focuses on the way people cope with the implications of threat to their self-regard rather than on the way they cope with the threat itself. This chapter analyzes the way coping processes restore self-regard rather than the way they address the provoking threat itself.

Title:  Self-Affirmation: Understanding the Effects

Author(s): David K. Sherman

Link: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/274a/e427f51ef05a7156cb94b802c2c2f97566b6.pdf

Abstract: Self-affirmation theory proposes that individuals possess a flexible self-system, such that they can respond to threats in one domain of life by affirming self-worth in other domains. In social psychology research, this has been examined in studies where people affirm important values in the context of self-threatening events or information. This paper reviews the literature demonstrating the effects of values affirmations and proposes a theoretical account to understand how self-affirmations reduce defensiveness in response to threats to individuals’ health, attenuate physiological stress responses to laboratory and naturalistic stressors, and improve academic performance among individuals experiencing identity threat. The proposed model has three components: Self-affirmations boost self-resources, broaden the perspective with which people view information and events in their lives, and lead to an uncoupling of the self and the threat, reducing the threat’s impact in affecting the self. This model helps explain what occurs when individuals affirm values in the context of threats, and how self-affirmations may instantiate lasting effects through changing the nature of ongoing experience.

Title:   Survival in HIV-1-positive adults practicing psychological or spiritual activities for one year.

Authors:   Fitzpatrick AL1, Standish LJ, Berger J, Kim JG, Calabrese C, Polissar N.

Link [PubMed]:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17900038

Abstract:

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate associations between survival and use of psychological and spiritual activities practiced over 1 year in HIV-positive (HIV+) patients.

METHOD:

Nine hundred one HIV+ adults living in the United States using at least 1 form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) completed a questionnaire 3 times between 1995 and 1998. Information on specific mind-body therapies included psychotherapy (group therapy, support groups, individual therapy) and spiritual therapies (self-defined "spiritual" activities, prayer, meditation, affirmations, psychic healing, visualizations). Subsequent death was ascertained from the National Death Index (NDI). Cox proportional-hazards regression assessed risk of death through 1999.

RESULTS:

Use of any psychological therapy reported in both the 6-month and 12-month follow-up questionnaires (1 year continuous use) was associated with a reduced risk of death (hazard ratio [HR]: 0.5, 95% CI: 0.3-0.9) adjusted for income, clinical acquired immune deficiency syndrome, CD4 count, smoking, alcohol use, and use of antiretroviral therapy or highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). The relationship between spiritual activities and survival was modified by use of HAART, which may reflect severity of illness. Individuals not currently using HAART and who participated in spiritual activities over the previous year were found to be at a reduced risk of death (HR: 0.4, 95% CI: 0.2-0.9) compared to those not practicing spirituality.

CONCLUSIONS:

Participation in spiritual and psychological therapies may be related to beneficial clinical outcomes in HIV+ individuals, including improved survival. Due to the self-selection of therapies in this observational cohort, it is not possible to distinguish use of the therapies from other characteristics or activities of the people participating in them.