Positive Psychological Experiences in Stem Cell Transplant Survivors: A stem cell transplantation can offer hope for cure for some patients with advanced blood or bone marrow cancer, but the procedure is associated with severe side effects - and recipients must face their mortality. Most psychology research in the area has focused on psychological symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD but less research has explored positive emotional resources post transplant. This longitudinal study interviewed 25 transplant recipients at Boston's Dana Faber Cancer Center to better understand positive emotional experiences post transplant. In qualitative analysis, we found patients regularly experienced gratitude, optimism and hope despite the obvious challenges that a life threatening medical illness presents. This research is an example that positivity can be found in the very midst of challenging life experiences.
Self-Compassionate Aging: This 2018 article brings together all of the scientific evidence published to date in the field of self-compassionate aging. Together with my colleagues at Harvard Medical School and The University of Melbourne, I present information showing that self-compassion is related to well-being, and may help you adjust to health symptoms and chronic illness in later life. This research was covered by Mindful Magazine, which is distributed in print around the world and based in San Francisco.
Heart Rate Variability and Depression: A growing body of research shows that depression is not just in your brain. Depression is intimately linked with your body, physical health, and especially heart-health. This research that I conducted in 2018 synthesizes the research linking depression in later life to heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is an index of heart-health regulated by the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. In a follow-up study, I am now exploring if meditation practice may improve HRV, via its potential calming effects on the nervous system.
Self-Compassion and the Menopause: Menopause can have a very big impact on well-being at midlife. This research found self-compassion is a helpful skill that can help midlife women maintain well-being, despite troublesome hot flushes.
Positive Well-being during the Menopause Transition: Our healthcare system focuses so much on negative symptoms, with less emphasis on positive qualities such as happiness and well-being. To help restore the balance, this article investigates evidence about women's levels of happiness and meaning in life across the menopause transition. The good news is that we found no evidence of declining happiness/meaning in life during the menopausal years.