We’ve all had those days where we have the emotional range of a rollercoaster. Exhibiting strong feelings can make you feel out of sorts, but thanks to a new study published in the journal, Emotion, it turns out that this might not be the worst thing. In reality, a range of emotions is a basis for thriving psychological and physical health.
Research pointed to a connection between positive emotion and anti-inflammation in the body before this: An analysis in the Frontiers in Immunology looked at mind-body interventions (MBIs), and over two decades of research points to the fact that yoga and meditation lead to anti-inflammatory responses in your body. Other studies encourage the idea that positive affirmations have an effect on our bodies. Our yoga instructors were right (and were way ahead of science).
Emotion’s study delved deeper than others have in the past, and it looked at the range and variety of emotions we experience and how that plays a role in all of this. Researchers asked 175 middle-aged adults to keep track of their emotions every day for a month. The participants recorded how often and how strongly they experienced 32 different emotions on a scale of 1 to 5. The emotional strata were broken down into 16 positive emotions and 16 negative ones. Six months later, scientists tested their blood for markers of systemic inflammation.
The authors of the study coined the term “emodiversity” to describe having a wide range of positive emotions, or the quality found to cause lower systemic inflammation in the body. The results? People who experienced a wide range of positive emotions had less inflammation than people who reported a smaller range.
So, should we all finally invest in a yoga mat? Maybe. The bigger takeaway is we should all try to implement what Anthony Ong, the lead author and a professor of human development at Cornell, calls “simple daily practice[s] of labeling and categorizing positive emotions in discrete terms.” Basically, we need to pay attention to what we’re feeling and be able to recognize when and why we’re feeling it. Do it from the comfort of your bed, on the way to work, or just whenever your mind thoughts need a lift.
Reflect—it’s good for you.
How do you help yourself stay positive? Sound off below!