Heart Rate Variability as an Index of Stress Resilience
Stress resilience refers to the ability to maintain a stable physical and psychological equilibrium despite experiencing stressful events. Flexibility of the autonomic nervous system is particularly important for adaptive stress responses and may contribute to individual differences in resilience. Power spectrum analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) allows measurement of sympathovagal balance, which helps to evaluate autonomic flexibility. The present study investigated HRV as a broad index of stress resilience. Twenty-four male participants from the Army National Guard Special Forces completed psychological measures known to relate to resilience and had HRV measured while undergoing stressful virtual environment scenarios. Trends toward significant correlations were observed between HRV and stress resilience factors, including stress vulnerability and general resilience to traumatic events. Trends toward significant correlations were also observed between HRV and attachment insecurity, as well as four of the Big Five personality factors. Although stress resilience remains as a complex, multidimensional construct, HRV shows promise as a global index of overall stress resilience.
Amano, Stacy S.
Stress management, Heart rate monitoring, Stress
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