BACKGROUND: A range of nonpharmacological interventions (e.g., meditation) have positive effects on blood pressure (BP) but tend to have poor adherence. These interventions may lower BP partly by absorbing and directing attention away from one's negative thoughts. We hypothesized that recurring self-selected activities (SSAs) that are attentionally absorbing may similarly lower BP. We examined the effect of reported engagement in SSAs during the previous month prior to participation on ambulatory BP (ABP) and whether those prone to rumination were less likely to show these effects.
METHODS: Participants (n = 38) reported engagement in SSAs and how absorbing they were, responded to trait rumination and perceived stress questionnaires, wore an ABP monitor for 24 hours, and at each ABP measurement answered electronic diary questions assessing activity levels, affect, social interactions, and caffeine and tobacco use.
RESULTS: Regression analyses tested whether the reported absorption of SSAs, trait rumination, and their interaction predicted daytime and nighttime systolic and diastolic ABP. Greater absorption predicted lower daytime and nighttime ABP (bs = -18.83 to -8.79; Ps < .05), but this relationship was moderated by trait rumination (bs = 3.72 to 9.97; Ps < .05). Follow-up analyses revealed that absorption was unrelated to ABP for those with high trait rumination but that more absorption predicted lower ABP for those less prone to rumination.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that regular engagement in absorbing SSAs is related to lower ABP. These findings have implications for the development of nonpharmacological interventions and suggest SSAs may serve as an adjuvant intervention strategy to lower BP.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Internal Medicine