ObjectiveEmotion regulation (ER) strategies are related to psychological health, with most work examining reappraisal and suppression. Yet, emerging findings suggest that rumination may have stronger relationships with psychological health, namely depression, than other ER strategies. This paper replicated and extended this work by testing whether rumination was independently associated with a range of poor psychological health risk indicators and outcomes. In addition, it explored whether the reason why rumination is so deleterious to health is because it underlies the stress-health relationship.
DesignParticipants (n = 218) completed measures online.
Main outcome measuresSurveys assessed ER strategies (reappraisal, suppression, proactive coping, emotion support seeking, and rumination), health risk indicators (hostility, optimism, self-esteem), health outcomes (depression, poor sleep quality, anxiety) and perceived chronic stress.
ResultsMultivariate regression analyses revealed rumination as the only ER strategy with a consistent independent effect on all the health risk indicators and outcomes. Bootstrapping analyses revealed indirect effects of perceived chronic stress on all the health variables via rumination.
ConclusionRumination had a deleterious relationship with psychological health, perhaps because rumination underlies the relationship between stress and psychological health. Results have implications for interventions, particularly emphasizing the need to target ruminative thinking after stressful experiences.