Emotional Intelligence: Emotions and Health

I was looking for a slide that I used a few years ago to include in a presentation on Emotional Intelligence to a healthcare organization. So I opened a file that I have labeled “Health.” In most of my Emotional Intelligence presentations and workshops I mention a few health benefits of better emotional management such as lower blood pressure, better hormonal balance, better sleep, etc.

As I began reading through the slides I created about the impact of negative and positive emotions on health issues, I realized that I had accumulated some very important and powerful information that others might find of interest. I thought some of this information might motivate people to at least investigate ways to improve their emotional self-awareness and emotional self-management.

Summary of Findings from Various Research Studies.
Following are just a few of the quotes from various research studies on the impact of emotions on health.

    Memory Loss and Emotions
    “People who are easily distressed and have more negative emotions are more likely to develop memory problems than more easygoing people. In the study, those who most often experience negative emotions such as depression and anxiety were 40 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those who were least prone to negative emotions.

    “Source: American Academy of Neurology, “Distress-prone People More Likely to Develop Memory Problems,” as reported in Science Daily, June 12, 2007.

    “Results provide evidence that individuals with diabetes can reduce HbA1c levels by utilizing the HeartMath (emotional management) tools and techniques. Research suggests that patients who are able to maintain their levels at 7% or less reduce their risk for complications such as blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage.”

    Source: McCraty, Atkinson, and Conforti, Proceedings of the Society of Behavioral Medicine 20th Annual Scientific Sessions, San Diego, CA 1999

    Positive Emotion and Alzheimer’s
    “After analyzing short autobiographies of almost 200 nuns, written when they first took holy orders, he found that the sisters who had expressed the most positive emotions in their writing as girls ended up living longest, and that those on the road to Alzheimer’s expressed fewer and fewer positive emotions as their mental functions declined.”

    Source: Dr. David Snowdon, University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, as reported in Time, “The Nun Study,” May 14, 2001

    Positive Words and Caring
    “A thirty-five year study of male Harvard students found that, of those who had rated their parents low in parental caring and used fewer positive words to describe them (loving, open, etc.), 95% had diseases diagnosed in midlife. Fewer than 30% who rated their parents high in caring and used many positive words had been so diagnosed.”

    Source: Journal of Behavioral Medicine [1997; 20(1): 1-13]

    Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
    “Emotional stress was more predictive of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease than smoking; people who were unable to effectively manage their stress had a 40% higher death rate than more emotionally managed individuals.”

    Source: H. Eysenck, British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1998

    Happiness Cuts Cardiac Risk
    “The results (of this 10 year study) show increased levels of positive emotions, known as positive affect, are linked to a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease. While additional research is needed, the results suggest heart disease prevention may be helped by increasing positive feelings as well as reducing symptoms of depression.”

    Source: “Don’t worry, be happy: positive affect and reduced 10-year incident coronary heart disease: The Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey,” European Heart Journal 2010 31(9), as reported on Bloomberg.com, July 15, 2010.

The Good News
The good news is that using the emotional self-awareness and emotional self-management techniques in our programs has been shown promise in helping improve the health of people with…

  • Hypertension
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Fibromyalgia

  • Arrhythmias
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Chronic fatigue

  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Clinical depression
  • Chronic pain

With the potential to realize such health benefits, it seems an easy decision to commit to the small amount of time it takes to apply simple EI techniques on a regular basis.

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