Emodiversity...What Is It? by Lori Zabka
We know that our emotional health is tied closely to our physical health, and vice versa. (Food/Mood; Mind/Gut) We’ve heard that those with a “cheerful” disposition have stronger immune systems, recover faster from setbacks, and even live longer…..but recently, an amazing discovery was made.
Have you ever heard of the word: Emodiversity? Hmm….Does it sound like I just made it up? I take no credit! Researchers at Cornell coined “Emodiversity” after their study revealed some surprising results. Simply stated, they found that a “diverse spectrum of positive emotions reduces inflammation inside the body.” Additionally, the study found that a limited range of positive emotions did not seem to reduce systemic inflammation.
This study is both fascinating and ground-breaking, in my opinion, because it shows that an array of positive emotions (16, to be exact), are responsible for lowering three biomarkers of inflammation. The study concluded that greater diversity of day-to-day positive emotions was tied to lower systemic inflammation….and subsequently, a reduced risk of chronic disease and early death. Come on! That’s amazing!
Are you curious to know which 16 emotions proved to be so powerful? They were (in no particular order): excited, alert, amused, at ease, attentive, calm, cheerful, determined, enthusiastic, active, happy, inspired, interested, proud, relaxed, and strong. What I find remarkable is the wide swath (thus, the name EMODIVERSITY), of emotions. Happiness or cheerfulness were not the only ones! In the study, the participants who experienced a wider range of emotions had the lowest levels of inflammation….not necessarily just the “happy campers.”
Professor Anthony Ong was the lead author of this study. In a statement, Ong said, "There is growing evidence that inflammatory responses may help explain how emotions get under the skin, so to speak, and contribute to disease susceptibility. Our findings suggest that having a rich and diverse positive emotional life may benefit health by lowering circulating levels of inflammation.”
WOW. So, what does this mean for you and me? When I look at the list of the 16 emotions studied, I am reminded of the importance of taking a holistic approach to our well-being. Our happiness; our sense of community; our sense of purpose; our sense of humor; our ability to relax and stay resilient in the face of adversity…..all contribute to our health! Staying physically strong and active, remaining calm and attentive…..the list goes on, and my mind asks, “Which of these is most important; does one lead to the next, and so on, and so on….??”
We are complex creatures, and there are things we will never fully understand about the way our bodies work, but I’m thankful for studies like this that prove the interconnectedness of our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
What will you do today to achieve more of the top 16 anti-inflammatory emotions? Eat clean, exercise, call a friend, hug your loved one, stare at the clouds, smell a rose, read a great book, or write a story…..
Enjoy the journey….and let the “Life by Lori” community know how you are faring along the way! Post and tag us @life_by_lori as you experience EMODIVERSITY!
Good Vibes Only,
Guest blogger Lori Zabka is a decade-long Certified Personal Trainer and Women’s Fitness Specialist through the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), Nutritious Life™ Certified Nutrition Coach, and a Certified Yoga Instructor through the Academy of Holistic Fitness. Her passion is helping busy women live their healthiest lives.