1. Study suggests exercise can help with boosting mood

    May 23, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Connecticut press release:

    You don’t have to spend hours at the gym or work up a dripping sweat to improve your mood and feel better about yourself, researchers at the University of Connecticut say in a new study.

    If you lead a sedentary lifestyle — spending large parts of your day sitting at home or at work — simply getting out of your chair and moving around can reduce depression and lift your spirits.

    “We hope this research helps people realize the important public health message that simply going from doing no physical activity to performing some physical activity can improve their subjective well-being,” says Gregory Panza, a graduate student in UConn’s Department of Kinesiology and the study’s lead author.

    “What is even more promising for the physically inactive person is that they do not need to exercise vigorously to see these improvements,” Panza continues. “Instead, our results indicate you will get the best ‘bang for your buck’ with light or moderate intensity physical activity.”

    For those keeping score, light physical activity is the equivalent of taking a leisurely walk around the mall with no noticeable increase in breathing, heart rate, or sweating, says Distinguished Kinesiology Professor Linda Pescatello, senior researcher on the project. Moderate intensity activity is equivalent to walking a 15-20-minute mile with an increase in breathing, heart rate, and sweating, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. Vigorous activity is equivalent to a very brisk walk or jogging a 13-minute mile with a very noticeable increase in breathing, heart rate, and sweating to the point of being unable to maintain a conversation.

    The study looked at 419 generally healthy middle-aged adults who wore accelerometers on their hips to track physical activity over four days. Participants also completed a series of questionnaires asking them to describe their daily exercise habits, psychological well-being, depression level, pain severity, and extent to which pain interfered with their daily activities.

    Here’s what the researchers learned:

    • People who reported higher levels of sedentary behavior also reported lower levels of subjective well-being, meaning those who sat around a lot were the least happiest. Subjective well-being is defined as the positive and negative evaluations that people make of their own lives. These results confirmed previous studies.
    • In general, physical activity improved people’s sense of well-being. Yet, different intensities of physical activity were more beneficial to some people than others. For instance, people who participated in light-intensity physical activity reported higher levels of psychological well-being and lower levels of depression. People who participated in moderate-intensity physical activity reported higher levels of psychological well-being and lower levels of pain severity.
    • People who led sedentary lives and engaged in light or moderate physical activity showed the greatest improvement in overall sense of well-being. “The ‘more is better’ mindset may not be true when it comes to physical activity intensity and subjective well-being,” says Panza. “In fact, an ‘anything is better’ attitude may be more appropriate if your goal is a higher level of subjective well-being.”
    • While light and moderate physical activity clearly made some people feel better about themselves, when it came to vigorous activity, the results were neutral. There was no positive or negative association found between high intensity physical activity and subjective well-being.

    The last finding is actually good news for folks who enjoy hard, calorie-burning workouts, as it doesn’t support a widely reported recent study that found high intensity workouts significantly lowered some people’s sense of well-being.

    “Recent studies had suggested a slightly unsettling link between vigorous activity and subjective well-being,” says Beth Taylor, associate professor of kinesiology and another member of the research team. “We did not find this in the current study, which is reassuring to individuals who enjoy vigorous activity and may be worried about negative effects.”

    Many previous studies have attempted to identify the best exercise regimen to improve people’s sense of well-being. Yet no clear consensus has emerged. Some studies say moderate or vigorous activity is best. Others say low intensity exercise is better. The differences, the UConn researchers say, may be due to the way the studies were designed and possible limitations in how people’s well-being and levels of physical activity were measured.

    The UConn study is believed to be the first of its kind to use both objective (accelerometers) and subjective (questionnaires) measurements within a single group to examine the relationship between physical activity intensity and well-being.

    Yet the UConn research also has its limits, Panza says.

    All of the individuals who participated in the UConn study had a generally positive sense of well-being going into the project and were generally physically active. So their answers in the questionnaires need to be framed in that context. Whether the same results would hold true for people with lower subjective well-being or lower levels of physical activity is unknown, Panza says.

    Also, the conclusions formed in the UConn study are based on information gathered at a single point in time. A longitudinal study that tracks people’s feelings and physical activity over time would go a long way toward helping determine what exercise regimen might be best for different populations, Panza said.

    “If it doesn’t make us feel good, we don’t want to do it,” says Taylor. “Establishing the link between different types, doses, and intensities of physical activity on well-being is a very important step in encouraging more people to exercise.”

    The study was published in the Journal of Health Psychology in February.


  2. Study from past may point to what makes people happy

    May 6, 2017 by Ashley

    From the British Psychological Society (BPS) press release:

    A study from the 1930s into what made people happy may have lessons for policymakers today.

    That is the conclusion of research being presented today, Wednesday 3 May 2017, to the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Brighton by Sandie McHugh from the University of Bolton.

    In 1938 the Bolton Evening News ran a competition for two guineas for the best letter on “What does happiness mean for you and yours?” The resulting 226 handwritten letters were transcribed by Sandie McHugh and her fellow researchers Julie Prescott, Jerome Carson and Charlotte Mackey to give an insight.

    When they analysed the accounts they found the top three themes to emerge as being connected with happiness were contentment/peace of mind, family and home and other people.

    * “Contentment” and “peace of mind” meant having “enough” rather than seeking wealth.

    * “Family and home” was seen as happy marriages, healthy children and a place for repose.

    * “Other people” meant giving to and helping others less fortunate than themselves.

    Sandie McHugh says, “These shared values helped the community get by before the NHS and the welfare state. Their pleasure time, what we would call leisure, was in the town and in the Lancashire seaside resorts, principally Blackpool. Leisure was often centred in their workplace or the local pub. The people of Bolton were agents and actors in their own leisure activities.”

    “In today’s age of information our lives and leisure are more individualistic and some commentators have suggested that companionship from social media is an illusion and of a more solitary nature. People could ask themselves whether too much of their leisure time is spent on the internet rather than with other people, and is of a passive, rather than an active nature. They should ask what they would most enjoy.”

    “Scientific research shows that enjoyment is important for happiness and wellbeing, keeping active is good for health and helping other people can be beneficial to the giver.”

    The researchers suggest that the lessons from 1938 should be learned by present-day initiatives to enhance wellbeing in towns like Bolton.

    Among the policies they favour are:

    * Wider use of public facilities such as libraries, leisure centres and schools.

    * Expansion of the voluntary sector and higher levels of participation by people as volunteers.

    * More facilities for active leisure.

    Sandie McHugh concluded, “We welcome the move of the Office for National Statistics to measure people’s wellbeing and not just look at economic measures. This helps raise awareness and can be a prompt to action. As the 2017 World Happiness Report suggests, happiness can be considered as a measure of social progress and a goal of public policy.”


  3. Study suggests Facebook likes don’t improve mood

    May 4, 2017 by Ashley

    From the British Psychological Society press release:

    Receiving ‘likes’ on social media posts doesn’t make people feel better about themselves or improve their mood if they are down.

    These are the findings of a preliminary study presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Brighton on May 3, 2017, by Dr Martin Graff from University of South Wales.

    A total of 340 participants recruited via Twitter and Facebook completed personality questionnaires. They were also asked to say how much they agreed or disagreed with 25 statements relating to the ways people appreciate being valued on social media. For example ‘the attention I get from social media makes me feel good’ or ‘I consider someone popular based on the amount of likes they get’.

    Analysis revealed that participants who said they went out of their way to get more likes (such as asking others or paying) were more likely to have low self-esteem and be less trusting. The same was true of those who admitted deleting posts or making a picture their profile picture on account of the number of likes it received.

    The results also showed that receiving likes didn’t actually make people feel any better about themselves or make them feel better when they were down.

    Dr Graff said: “The proliferation of social media use has led to general concerns about the effects on our mental health. Although this is just a relatively small scale study the results indicate that the ways we interact with social media can affect how we feel and not always positively.”


  4. Study suggests expressing gratitude may enhance well-being

    April 22, 2017 by Ashley

    From the National Communication Association press release:

    Expressing gratitude has become trendy; these days, you can easily find a stock of gratitude journals and notebooks at your local stationery store or bookseller, or search for tips on how to express gratitude in your life.

    As it turns out, all this expression of gratitude is a good thing for our minds and bodies. In a new article in the National Communication Association’s Review of Communication, authors Stephen M. Yoshimura and Kassandra Berzins explore the connection between gratitude expression and psychological and physical well-being. As one might expect, positivity begets positive results for our well-being.

    What the authors write may seem obvious: “Gratitude consistently associates with many positive social, psychological, and health states, such as an increased likelihood of helping others, optimism, exercise, and reduced reports of physical symptoms.” However, the authors argue that not enough research has been done on the communication of gratitude and its effect on well-being, and they propose further avenues for analysis of gratitude messages and their impact.

    Expressions of gratitude are often a response to others’ acts of generosity — if you receive a gift from someone, or an act of kindness, you reciprocate by showing gratitude, sometimes publicly, to highlight the giver’s altruistic act. Gratitude is a different emotion from happiness because it so often stems from the actions of another individual. “To experience it, one must receive a message, and interpret the message,” the authors write.

    Numerous studies show that expressing and experiencing gratitude increases life satisfaction, vitality, hope, and optimism. Moreover, it contributes to decreased levels of depression, anxiety, envy, and job-related stress and burnout. Perhaps most intriguing is that people who experience and express gratitude have reported fewer symptoms of physical illness, more exercise, and better quality of sleep. Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?

    While the immediate effects of gratitude expression are clear, the authors argue that it also contributes to long-term success in relationships and personal well-being — “up to six months after a deliberate expression to one’s relationship’s partner.” Just as we periodically boost our immune systems through vaccines, we can boost our relationships and mental state by expressing gratitude to our partners on a regular basis. The authors leave us with a general health practice: Why not regularly communicate gratitude to enhance our social connectedness?


  5. Can dealing with emotional exhaustion enhance happiness?

    April 19, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of East Anglia press release:

    The study examined when and how dealing with emotional exhaustion can enhance happiness in a work environment. The research was focused on the role of perceived supervisor support (PSS) — the workers’ view of their manager’s level of supportiveness, caring and appreciation for their efforts — in stimulating ways to cope with exhaustion.

    The research was conducted by Carlos Ferreira Peralta of UEA’s Norwich Business School and Maria Francisca Saldanha of Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. They found that perceiving low supervisor support stimulates the employee’s engagement in developing an action plan which, when paired with what the researchers call instrumental social support — the activity of searching for advice, support or information from others — boosts happiness.

    Low PSS enhanced the relationship between emotional exhaustion and planning activities; whereas searching for instrumental social support enhanced the relationship between planning and happiness.

    This new study is thought to be one of the first to investigate how the negative relationship between emotional exhaustion and happiness can be reversed. Previous studies have highlighted the harmful consequences of emotional exhaustion, such as poorer performance and depression, and that PSS can prevent the emergence of emotional exhaustion.

    However, little was known about how people could overcome emotional exhaustion and experience positive outcomes in its aftermath, and about the role of PSS once employees experience emotional exhaustion. The findings are published in the journal Work & Stress.

    Dr Peralta, a lecturer in organisational behaviour, said: “Perceived supervisor support appears to be a double-edge sword, on the one hand preventing the emergence of emotional exhaustion but on the other hand diminishing the likelihood that employees will engage in planning to deal with the emotional exhaustion they are experiencing.

    “It is important to note that it is not emotional exhaustion per se, but rather how people cope with it, that is beneficial for individuals. Our findings suggest that the activities people engage in have a key role in building happiness from an internally stressful experience and that emotional exhaustion can have a silver lining.”

    Dr Peralta added: “This research contributes to a greater understanding of whether benefits can be gained by individuals as they cope with emotional exhaustion. The findings help clarify the role of social support in dealing with and becoming happy after emotional exhaustion.”

    The researchers suggest that managers would probably help their employees by being attentive to their experiences and could benefit from training that differentiates between the actions that can prevent employees’ emotional exhaustion and those that can support employees’ efforts to cope with emotional exhaustion.

    “Providing support may prevent the emergence of emotional exhaustion in employees,” said Dr Peralta. “However, when an employee is experiencing emotional exhaustion it might be useful to just provide support when and if requested. Otherwise, the employee may not engage or delay the engagement in coping activities that can enhance their happiness. This is particularly relevant as caring supervisors might be tempted to increase the support they provide when an employee is showing signals of emotional exhaustion.”

    The findings suggest that emotionally exhausted employees may benefit from an individually developed action plan enriched with instrumental social support, such as a focused and directed search for potentially useful information, in order to increase happiness after emotional exhaustion.

    The researchers conducted three complementary studies involving a total of 500 employees in Portugal and the United States. They worked in multiple occupations including management, architecture and engineering, computer and mathematical, business and financial operations, as well as office and administration support, sales, education and healthcare. The studies used different measures of emotional exhaustion, happiness and PSS and the participants were asked to complete questionnaires.


  6. Study suggests Pokemon Go players are happier, friendlier

    April 17, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Wisconsin-Madison press release:

    Pokemon Go people are happy people.

    That’s the finding of media researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who leapt to study the wildly popular mobile game shortly after its release in July 2016. Their work, newly published in the journal Media Psychology, shows that Pokemon Go users were more likely to be positive, friendly and physically active.

    James Alex Bonus, a UW-Madison graduate student studying educational media, says he joined the throng playing the game when it was new, but was surprised by the mix of reactions in news coverage.

    “There was plenty of negative press about distracted people trespassing and running into trees or walking into the street,” says Bonus. “But you also saw people really enjoying it, having a good time together outside.”

    Pokemon Go creator Niantic now claims 65 million regular users and more than 650 million app downloads. Even in the first few weeks following release of the game — in which players “catch” wild, virtual Pokemon creatures lurking in places like parks and public buildings, and train them to do battle against one another — players were easy to pick out on sidewalks.

    To Bonus and grad student collaborator Alanna Peebles, the immediately large pool of players presented an opportunity to capture the effects of augmented reality games — apps like Pokemon Go that make use of mobile technology to lay the playing field and rules over the real world.

    “There’s this idea that playing games and being on your phone is a negative social experience that detracts from things, but there haven’t been many chances to ask large groups of players about their experiences,” Bonus says.

    The researchers, including grad student Irene Sarmiento and communication arts Professor Marie-Louise Mares, surveyed about 400 people three weeks after the game was launched, asking questions about their emotional and social lives and levels of physical activity before segueing into Pokemon.

    More than 40 percent of their respondents turned out to be Pokemon Go players, and those people were more likely to be exercising — walking briskly, at least — and more likely to be experiencing positive emotions and nostalgia.

    “People told us about a variety of experiences with differential relationships to well-being,” Bonus says. “But, for the most part, the Pokemon Go players said more about positive things that were making them feel their life was more worthwhile, more satisfactory, and making them more resilient.”

    They were also more social. Players were more likely than nonplayers to be making new friends and deepening old friendships.

    “The more people were playing, the more they were engaging in behaviors that reflected making new connections — making Facebook friends, introducing themselves to someone new, exchanging phone numbers with someone, or spending more time with old friends and learning new things about them,” Bonus says.

    Surprisingly, the survey respondents who showed more social anxiety were not less likely to be Pokemon Go players, even though aspects of the game encourage chance interactions with people (including strangers).

    Results like that, that run counter to prevailing descriptions of gaming and researchers’ expectations, make Bonus all the more interested in studying new ways to interact with media.

    “We don’t look at media this way that often, but maybe we should,” he says. “We often focus on media violence and aggression and hostility, but there are opportunities where media is contributing to good life experiences.”


  7. Life skills are important for wellbeing in later life

    April 16, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University College London press release:

    Life skills, such as persistence, conscientiousness and control, are as important to wealth and wellbeing in later life as they are when people are much younger, according to new research led by UCL.

    Five life skills – emotional stability, determination, control, optimism and conscientiousness – play a key role in promoting educational and occupational success in early life but little has been known about their importance in later life.

    In the study, published in the journal PNAS, the academics looked at the impact of these attributes in over 8,000 men and women aged 52 and older who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging.

    The researchers found that people who have more life skills enjoy a range of benefits including greater financial stability, less depression, low social isolation, better health and fewer chronic diseases.

    They benefitted from favourable objective biomarkers in the blood including lower levels of cholesterol and of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation relevant to a number of different diseases. They also had smaller waistlines, where fat accumulation is particularly relevant to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, than people with few life skills.

    “No single attribute was more important than others. Rather, the effects depended on the accumulation of life skills,” said Professor Andrew Steptoe (UCL Epidemiology and Public Health), who co-led the research.

    The study found a range of health and social outcomes depending on the number of life skills a person has. For example, the proportion of participants reporting significant depressive symptoms declined from 22.8% among those with low life skills to 3.1% in those with four or five skills.

    Nearly half the people who reported the highest levels of loneliness had the fewest skills, declining to 10.5% in those with four or five attributes. Regular volunteering rose from 28.7% to 40% with increasing numbers of life skills.

    In terms of health, the proportion of respondents who rated their health as only fair or poor was 36.7% among those with low life skills, falling to 6% in participants with a higher number of attributes. People with more skills walked significantly faster than those with fewer – walking speed is an objective measure predicting future mortality in older population samples.

    Although causal conclusions cannot be drawn from observational studies, the researchers took cognitive function, education and family background into account, ruling them out as being responsible for the outcomes associated with life skills.

    “There is research on individual factors such as conscientiousness and optimism in adults, but the combinations of these life skills has not be studied very much before”, said Steptoe.

    “We were surprised by the range of processes – economic, social, psychological, biological, and health and disability related – that seem to be related to these life skills. Our research suggests that fostering and maintaining these skills in adult life may be relevant to health and wellbeing at older ages.”


  8. Study suggests double-edged effect of Instagram on teens

    April 13, 2017 by Ashley

    From the International Communication Association press release:

    Your food, your vacation, your carefully curated life — all posted for your friends in a filtered image. Some may scoff at adolescents’ use of social media networks as they pine for likes. Is this just frivolous behavior? Or are they really just solidifying their social connections to friends? A recent study by a researcher at the University of Leuven found that adolescents’ use of Instagram actually strengthened the closeness of their friendships.

    Eline Frison (University of Leuven) will present her findings at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in San Diego, CA. From 2013-2014, Frison set up a large-scale longitudinal panel study to investigate the relationships between Flemish adolescents’ social networking site use and their well-being. Students filled out paper-and-pencil surveys between 6 month periods. The surveys asked students about their use of social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, and their well-being (depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, loneliness).

    The data analyzed revealed that frequent use of Instagram at one point was related to greater depression six months later. However, using Instagram at one point was also related to increased closeness to friends (perception that they are appreciated and loved by their friends) six months later, which in turn was related to lower levels of depression.

    Various researchers have investigated the impact of using Facebook on young people’s well-being, and some have examined the impact of Instagram on individuals’ mental health. This study is the first to investigate the longitudinal relationship between Instagram use and well-being in an adolescent sample, and the first to examine the role of adolescents’ closeness to friends in this relationship.

    “This age group may be particularly at risk for the impact of Instagram, given the increasing popularity of Instagram in adolescence and given the increase of depressive symptoms during this stage of life,” said Frison. “This study offers practitioners greater insight into the outcomes of adolescents’ Instagram use. More specifically, using Instagram can be both beneficial and harmful for adolescents’ well-being. If using Instagram stimulates adolescents’ closeness to friends, it is beneficial in the long run, but if Instagram is not capable of that stimulation, it is harmful in the long run.”


  9. Maintaining an active sex life may lead to improved job satisfaction, engagement in work

    March 21, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Oregon State University press release:

    Maintaining a healthy sex life at home boosts employees’ job satisfaction and engagement at the office, underscoring the value of a strong work-life balance, an Oregon State University researcher has found.

    A study of the work and sex habits of married employees found that those who prioritized sex at home unknowingly gave themselves a next-day advantage at work, where they were more likely to immerse themselves in their tasks and enjoy their work lives, said Keith Leavitt, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Business.

    “We make jokes about people having a ‘spring in their step,’ but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it,” said Leavitt, an expert in organizational behavior and management. “Maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organizations they work for.”

    The study also showed that bringing work-related stress home from the office negatively impinges on employees’ sex lives. In an era when smart phones are prevalent and after-hours responses to work emails are often expected, the findings highlight the importance of leaving work at the office, Leavitt said. When work carries so far into an employee’s personal life that they sacrifice things like sex, their engagement in work can decline.

    The researchers’ findings were published this month in the Journal of Management. Co-authors are Christopher Barnes and Trevor Watkins of the University of Washington and David Wagner of the University of Oregon.

    Sexual intercourse triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward centers in the brain, as well as oxytocin, a neuropeptide associated with social bonding and attachment. That makes sex a natural and relatively automatic mood elevator and the benefits extend well into the next day, Leavitt said.

    To understand the impact of sex on work, the researchers followed 159 married employees over the course of two weeks, asking them to complete two brief surveys each day. They found that employees who engaged in sex reported more positive moods the next day, and the elevated mood levels in the morning led to more sustained work engagement and job satisfaction throughout the workday.

    The effect, which appears to linger for at least 24 hours, was equally strong for both men and women and was present even after researchers took into account marital satisfaction and sleep quality, which are two common predictors of daily mood.

    “This is a reminder that sex has social, emotional and physiological benefits, and it’s important to make it a priority,” Leavitt said. “Just make time for it.”

    Twenty years ago, monitoring sleep or daily step counts or actively practicing mindful meditation might’ve seemed odd but now they are all things people practice as part of efforts to lead healthier, more productive lives. It may be time to rethink sex and its benefits as well, he said.

    “Making a more intentional effort to maintain a healthy sex life should be considered an issue of human sustainability, and as a result, a potential career advantage,” he said. U.S. employers probably won’t follow the lead of a town councilman in Sweden who recently proposed that local municipal employees be allowed to use an hour of their work week for sex. The councilman’s hope is to boost the town’s declining population as well as improve employee moods and productivity.

    But employers here can steer their employee engagement efforts more broadly toward work-life balance policies that encourage workers to disconnect from the office, Leavitt said. The French recently enacted a law that bars after-hours email and gives employees a “right to disconnect.”

    “Technology offers a temptation to stay plugged in, but it’s probably better to unplug if you can,” he said. “And employers should encourage their employees to completely disengage from work after hours.”


  10. Combating negative emotions with self-guided positive imagery

    March 16, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Frontiers press release:

    Flashbacks of scenes from traumatic events often haunt those suffering from psychiatric conditions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “The close relationship between the human imagery system and our emotions can cause deep emotional perturbations,” says Dr Svetla Velikova of Smartbrain in Norway. “Imagery techniques are often used in cognitive psychotherapy to help patients modify disturbing mental images and overcome negative emotions.” Velikova and her team set out to see if such techniques could become self-guided and developed at home, away from the therapist’s chair.

    Healthy people are also emotionally effected by what we see and the images we remember. Velikova explains, “if we visually remember an image from an unpleasant interaction with our boss, this can cause an increased level of anxiety about our work and demotivation.” There is great interest in ways to combat such everyday negative emotional responses through imagery training. But she warns, “this is a challenging task and requires a flexible approach. Each day we face different problems and a therapist teaches us how to identify topics and strategies for imagery exercises.”

    To find out if we can train ourselves to use imagery techniques and optimize our emotional state, Velikova and co-workers turned to 30 healthy volunteers. During a two-day workshop the volunteers learnt a series of imagery techniques. They learnt how to cope with negative emotions from past events through imagery transformation, how to use positive imagery for future events or goals, and techniques to improve social interactions and enhance their emotional balance in daily life. They then spent the next 12 weeks training themselves at home for 15-20 minutes a day, before attending another similar two-day workshop.

    Velikova compared the results of participant psychological assessment and brain activity, or electroencephalographic (EEG), measurement, before and after the experiment. “The psychological testing showed that depressive symptoms were less prominent. The number of those with subthreshold depression, expressing depressive symptoms but not meeting the criteria for depression, was halved. Overall, volunteers were more satisfied with life and perceived themselves as more efficient” she explains.

    Following analysis, the EEG data showed significant changes in the beta activity in the right medial prefrontal cortex of the brain. Velikova notes that this region is known to be involved in imaging pleasant emotions and contributing to the degree of satisfaction with life. There were also changes in the functional connectivity of the brain, including increased connectivity between the temporal regions from both hemispheres, which Velikova attributes to enhanced coordination of networks linked to processing of images. She concludes, “this combination of EEG findings also suggests a possible increase in the activity of GABA (gamma -aminobutyric acid), well known for its anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties.”

    Velikova and co-workers’ results indicate that self-guided emotional imagery training has great potential to improve the everyday emotional wellbeing in healthy people. The team is now further exploring how the approach affects the cognitive function of healthy people. With minimal professional intervention, this technique could be developed to be a cost-effective aid for those with subthreshold depression. It could also be promoted by businesses to help improve workforce morale and drive up productivity.