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08-06-2018 | Uitgave 6/2018

Journal of Behavioral Medicine 6/2018

Self-compassion, chronic age-related stressors, and diurnal cortisol secretion in older adulthood

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Behavioral Medicine > Uitgave 6/2018
Auteurs:
Heather Herriot, Carsten Wrosch, Jean-Philippe Gouin

Abstract

Many older adults experience chronic age-related stressors (e.g., life regrets or health problems) that are difficult to control and can disturb cortisol regulation. Self-compassion may buffer adverse effects of these stressful experiences on diurnal cortisol secretion in older adulthood. To examine whether self-compassion could benefit older adults’ cortisol secretion in the context of chronic and largely uncontrollable age-related stressors, 233 community-dwelling older adults reported their levels of self-compassion, age-related stressors (regret intensity, physical health problems, and functional disability), and relevant covariates. Diurnal cortisol was measured over 3 days and the average area-under-the-curve and slope were calculated. Higher levels of self-compassion were associated with lower daily cortisol levels among older adults who reported higher levels of regret intensity, physical health problems, or functional disability (βs < − .53, ps < .01), but not among their counterparts who reported lower levels of these age-related stressors (βs < .24, ps > .28). These results suggest that self-compassion may represent an important personal resource that could protect older adults from stress-related biological disturbances resulting from chronic and uncontrollable stressors.

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