Restorative Biological Processes and Health



Research on psychological influences on physiology primarily focuses on biological responses during stressful challenges, and how those responses can become dysregulated with prolonged or repeated exposure to stressful circumstances. At the same time, humans spend considerable time recovering from those challenges, and a host of biological processes involved in restoration and repair take place during normal, non-stressed activities. We review restorative biological processes and evidence for links between psychosocial factors and several restorative processes including sleep, wound healing, antioxidant production, DNA repair, and telomerase function. Across these biological processes, a growing body of evidence suggests that experiencing negative emotional states, including acute and chronic stress, depressive symptoms, and individual differences in negative affectivity and hostility, can influence these restorative processes. This review calls attention to restorative processes as fruitful mechanisms and outcomes for future biobehavioral research.