Many research studies discuss how inflammation can impair your health. High levels of inflammatory chemicals in our bodies have been linked to conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, periodontal disease, type II diabetes and certain cancers to name a few. Research studies have shown negative emotions and stressful experiences are linked to the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals such as cytokines.
If negative emotions are now being associated with poorer health what could the effects of positive emotions be?
An awesome study published by Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., Stanford University, and colleagues in the journal Emotion showed positive emotions like ‘awe’ or ‘wonder’ were strong predictors of lower levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals like interleukin-6 (IL-6). This research points toward a connection between positive emotions and health through lower pro-inflammatory levels. In another study, Keltner created the state of ‘awe’ by placing research subjects in a grove of 200 feet tall trees on the University of California, Berkeley campus.
Want to sooth inflammation? Bathe in the wonder of nature. Pause and take in the infinite night sky, the grace of a bird in flight or the divine scent of fresh air after a rain.
In other words, take two Aspens and call me in the morning.
Emotion. 2015 Apr;15(2):129-33. doi: 10.1037/emo0000033. Epub 2015 Jan 19. Positive affect and markers of inflammation: discrete positive emotions predict lower levels of inflammatory cytokines. Stellar J, John-Henderson, Anderson CL, Gordon AM, McNeil GD, Keltner D.