The Health Benefits of Positive Emotions
Among the many health benefits of positive emotions is a reduction in stress and a boost to general well-being. Positive emotions can actually act as a buffer between you and stressful events in your life, allowing you to cope more effectively and preserve your mental health (Tugade, Fredrickson, & Barrett, 2004). In addition, in 2006 researchers confirmed that experiencing positive emotions helps you modulate your reaction to stress and allows you to recover from the negative effects of stress more quickly (Ong, Bergeman, Bisconti, & Wallace).
Positive emotions may also protect you from the sniffles! Students who were randomly assigned to writing about intense, positive experiences for three days, 20 minutes a day, made significantly fewer visits to the student health center for symptoms of illness, compared to students who wrote about a neutral topic (Burton & King, 2004).
Experiencing positive emotions may also encourage individuals to make healthier decisions, indirectly contributing to better health. Herzenstein (2008) found that several positive emotions lead to a variety of health benefits, including:
- Happiness resulted in increased risk- and variety-seeking and gain-focused behavior
- Contentment resulted in increased risk avoidance and loss-focused behavior.
Positive emotions can also facilitate more effective coping, which boosts health by providing a buffer against symptoms of depression (Dolphin, Steinhardt, & Cance, 2015). In addition, being mindful and taking the time to savor positive emotions can provide an extra buffer against symptoms of depression while boosting psychological well-being and life satisfaction (Kiken, Lundberg, & Fredrickson, 2017).
Another health benefit of positive emotions is that they may result in a stronger heart; Kok and colleagues (2013) found a connection between a healthy heart rate and the experience of positive social emotions. Similarly, a meta-analysis of several studies found that well-being was significantly related to good cardiovascular functioning, general health, and longevity overall (Howell, Kern, & Lyubomirsky, 2007).
Part 7 to be continued
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